It should really come as no surprise that pedestrian accidents and car accidents caused by distracted pedestrians are on the rise. Just as distracted driving has been on the rise because of the widespread use of cell phones and smartphones behind the wheel, pedestrians are also as equally attached to their digital devices as they stroll the streets.
Texting while walking or surfing the net while walking can lead to serious injury or death. There have been multiple instances when pedestrians have been hit by cars due to distraction. A teenager in Florida was hit and killed by a car in 2008 because she was texting while walking. A girl in New York fell into an open manhole while texting and exposed herself to raw sewage in 2009.
A recent experiment demonstrated how engrossed pedestrians were with their phones. Researchers at Western Washington University tested “inattention blindness” and discovered that only one-quarter of people using a cell phone on the street noticed a passing bicycle. The passing bicyclist was actually an unicyclist who wore a purple clown’s outfit with a red nose.
Safety advocacy groups like the Governors Highway Safety Association have taken notice and say the lack of improvement of pedestrian accident deaths is partly caused by mobile phones. States have taken notice too. City lawmakers in New York and Idaho have proposed or passed efforts to reduce pedestrian and car accidents. The failed New York proposal would outlaw texting while walking in the city. A municipality in Idaho successfully passed a law where pedestrians cannot text while crossing the street.
Source: Boston Globe, “Caution: Texting on foot a hazard,” Beth Teitell, 5/17/11