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The Dangers Of Distraction

A study conducted by Ohio State University researchers showed, among other things, that 33 percent of people do not put down their cell phones before crossing a busy street. Overall, the study concluded that pedestrians suffer even more injuries due to distraction than drivers. The data analyzed in the study came from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and included all cell phone related emergency room visits for bikers, pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers from 2004 to 2010. The distraction caused by cell phones has led to substantial legislation all across the nation aimed at combating the problem of distracted driving. Distracted walking may be an even greater problem.

The source of the distraction in many pedestrian accidents may come as a surprise. Texting was the culprit in less than 10 percent of the incidents. Nearly 70 percent of the cell phone related emergency room visits during those years were suffered by pedestrians who were merely talking. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the victims were young people, with more than half being less than 31 years old.

Injury reports involving cell phones steadily rose for drivers and pedestrians from 2004 to 2009. In 2010, the number of distracted driving incidents leading to an emergency room visit actually dropped. The number for distracted pedestrians continued to rise. This could be the result of increased legislation or of efforts to make the public aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Regardless, it is clear that something more needs to be done to encourage pedestrians to concentrate more on safe walking habits.

Source: The Atlantic, "Study: 'Distracted Walking' Causes More Injuries Than Distracted Driving," by Lindsay Abrams, 20 June 2013

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