Dangers of Distracted Walking in New Jersey

Posted on Tuesday, August 7th, 2012    


Multi-tasking; we often find ourselves saying how well we all can multi-task as part of our daily routine, but the question arises when simple tasks such as crossing the street becomes a serious danger. We are made aware of the multiple dangers of driving while texting and slapped with heavy fines when law enforcement pulls us over, or worse, contribute to the statistics of serious injuries and/or horrific fatalities which we hear on the news today.

Distracted driving (Driving without a hands-free device) has gained much notoriety because of the significant crash risk posed by drivers using cellphones to talk and text. Many serious injuries, if not fatal, happen when we’re not paying attention while we’re walking and talking on our mobile phones or walking and texting on our electronic devices. There is a growing problem caused by “lower-stakes multitasking” also known as “distracted walking” which combines a pedestrian, an electronic device and an unseen crack in the sidewalk, the pole of a stop sign, parked (or sometimes moving) car or truck. People must acknowledge their personal responsibility to ensure that they are aware of their surroundings to take precautions around traffic, trains and on sidewalks. Recently on July 31, 2012 the Star Ledger published an article addressing this public safety issue.

Reports of injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospitals have more than quadrupled in the past seven years according to emergency room numbers in the United States, and are almost certainly underreported. There has been a spike in pedestrians killed and injured in traffic accidents, but there is no reliable data on how many were distracted by electronics.

Examples of such accidents provided by Consumer Product Safety Commission include a 16-year-old boy who walked into a telephone pole while texting and suffered a concussion; a 28-year-old man who tripped and fractured a finger on the hand gripping his cellphone; and a 68-year-old man who fell off the porch while talking on a cellphone, spraining a thumb and an ankle and causing dizziness.

Sometimes, pedestrians using their phones do not notice objects or people that are right in front of them — even a clown riding a unicycle. That was the finding of a recent study at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., by a psychology professor, Ira Hyman, and his students.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 1,150 people — a number that has quadrupled in the last seven years — were treated in emergency rooms in the United States last year after accidents with handhelds. The number of people injured while walking and texting is likely to be underestimated since doctors or nurses may not have asked whether the patient was using a mobile device at the time of the accident.

Distracted pedestrians are in threat of getting involved in a car accident when they are on the streets and parking lots. Studies related to the risks of walking distracted show that pedestrians who use their cell phones or music players are likely to get involved in an accident.

View links below of how distracted walking may cost you your life

Distracted walking injuries quadruple in the last seven years CBS This Morning: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57483199/distracted-walking-injuries-quadruple-in-last-seven-years/


The woman who fell in the fountain while on her cellphone regretted her carelessness in retrospect, emphasizing the dangers of texting while walking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXYY_ep5Nh0&feature=kp

Office of Compliance – Hazards of using mobile devices while walking:

  • Cell Phones: Inattention to surroundings or lack of situational awareness
  • Texting while walking: Eyes taken away from path of travel and inattention to surroundings
  • MP3 players with headphones: Noise-induced hearing loss and inattention to surroundings

How to prevent accidents from distracted walking?

  • Don’t walk, talk and text.
  • If you have to talk or text, move to the side of the walkway out of the way of others.
  • Never cross or walk in the street while using an electronic device.
  • Do not walk with headphones in your ears.
  • Keep track of your surroundings.

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