Distracted walking contributes to pedestrian accidents nationwide

According to Consumer Reports, being distracted by a cellphone isn’t just dangerous for drivers; walkers, too, can put themselves at risk by texting or talking. Consumer Reports said distracted walking is a growing problem in Massachusetts and the rest of the country, and is contributing to many pedestrian accidents.

According to a recently-released poll by Consumer Reports, 85 percent of Americans said they had recently seen a person using a cellphone to talk, text, email or use apps while walking. Of those people, a full 52 percent said the distracted pedestrians posed a threat to themselves or others.

Authorities in some areas are even dishing out traffic tickets to people for walking and using cellphones. For example, in Utah, it is illegal to walk across train tracks while using a cellphone and violators can end up with a $50 fine.

It is possible that additional states will begin implementing laws against distracted walking as it causes more accidents. A study by a former Ohio State University graduate student concluded that injuries sustained by non-motorized people — mostly pedestrians — who were distracted by cellphones are going up by more than 180 percent each year.

In some cases, distracted walkers end up stepping off of curbs right in front of cars or bicycles. In other cases, distracted walkers have been known to fall into manholes or construction projects, missing the warning signage.

This phenomenon could present an issue in personal injury lawsuits stemming from pedestrian accidents. For example, if a walker is hit by a bus while being distracted by a cellphone, it would be harder to show that the bus driver’s negligence was responsible for the accident.

Of course, the main reason to avoid cellphone-use while walking it that it poses a safety risk.

Source: KMIA, “Consumer Reports: Distracted walking dangers,” Tyler Stauson, July 23, 2012