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Distracted Walking: Just as Dangerous as Distracted Driving

I have written a great deal about distracted driving but not so much about distracted walking, which can be just as dangerous. Cell phones, iPods, and other electronic devices can lead to serious injury and death for pedestrians, especially in cities like Atlanta that are not necessarily pedestrian-friendly.

The New York Times recently published on article about distracted walking: “The era of the mobile gadget is making mobility that much more perilous, particularly on crowded streets and in downtown areas where multiple multitaskers veer and swerve and walk to the beat of their own devices.”

According to the NYT, distracted walking accounted for at least 1,000 emergency room visits in 2008. Distracted walking can cause trips and falls as well as more serious accidents such as collisions with vehicles. Distracted walking accidents are on the rise. They doubled from 2007 to 2008.

The NYT points out several cases of distracted walking. A 16-year-old suffered a concussion after walking into a telephone pole while texting. A 28-year-old man fractured his finger after he tripped and fell while talking on his cell phone. A 68-year-old man sprained his thumb and his ankle after he fell off his porch while talking on his cell phone.

According to the results of a recent study, young people are more likely to suffer injuries due to distracted walking. This makes sense, as young people use distracting technologies more frequently, in general. However, older people are not immune to distracted walking injuries. The study found that half of distracted walking ER visits were by individuals under 30; a quarter were by people 16 to 20; and a quarter were by people 41 to 60.

Another study found that distracted pedestrians using their phone will often not notice hazards right in front of them. The study found that only 25 percent of pedestrians using their cell phones noticed a clown on a unicycle that passed directly in front of them! Now, image if that clown had been a vehicle. The scientific name for this phenomenon is “inattention blindness.” People can only pay attention to so many things at once. Scientists suggest that cell phone use taxes our auditory resources as well as our visual resources. When we’re talking on the phone, we’re often visualizes elements of the conversation. This takes away from our ability to visually interact with our environment. If you’re walking down the sidewalk, it’s best to save the phone conversation for later. Wait until you’re sitting in a safe place!

As I mentioned earlier, Atlanta is not a safe place for pedestrians, and you should certainly pay attention when walking around the city. A pedestrian was killed while crossing a street in Cobb County on Tuesday. On the same day, another pedestrian was killed while crossing an intersection in Mableton, Georgia. Police reported that the man was using the crosswalk when the crosswalk light was red. A 14-year-old young woman was recently killed when she was hit by a car as she was walking home after school in Stone Mountain. Atlanta is very dangerous city for distracted driving and distracted walking.

Have you been injured by a distracted driver or a distracted pedestrian? If so, contact an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 for a free consultation.