Why Distracted Walking Is More Dangerous Than You Think

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When a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, people are quick to assume that the motorist was at fault. While this might be the case, it is not always the driver who is guilty of distraction at the time of the accident. Distracted walking has become more of a problem in the last several years as cell phones have taken over. Today, pedestrians should not underestimate the dangers of distracted walking – especially when navigating a busy city like Fort Lauderdale. Not only could it result in a collision and serious injuries, but the pedestrian could also be ineligible for financial recovery.

Distracted Walking Facts and Statistics

All roadway users – including bicyclists and pedestrians – have a duty to pay attention to the road and obey traffic laws at all times. Pedestrians often get away with bending the rules more than drivers for the simple reason that pedestrians aren’t as dangerous to others as motor vehicles. In recent years, however, the media has started to pay more attention to the issue of distracted walking. This is largely due to unsettling statistics, such as:

  • The number of phone-related pedestrian injuries has more than doubled since 2004.
  • Despite 78% of pedestrians reporting that they think distracted walking is a “serious” issue, at least 60% of pedestrians walk while distracted.
  • 74% of pedestrians say other people walk while distracted, but only 29% admit to doing so themselves.
  • Four out of 10 people say they’ve personally seen a distracted walking accident.
  • 26% of Americans say they’ve gotten into distracted walking accidents themselves.
  • Talking on the phone is the number one cause of distracted walking (90%), followed by chatting (88%), listening to music (88%), and using a smartphone (85%).
  • 22% of people think distracted walking is “funny,” while 46% say it is “embarrassing in a silly way.”

Distracted walking is far from funny or silly. It is a bad habit that could mean life or death to a pedestrian. In 2017, Florida saw 9,358 pedestrian accidents, resulting in 643 pedestrian fatalities and thousands of serious injuries. Distracted walking can cause a pedestrian to step out into the roadway without checking for oncoming vehicles – culminating in a deadly collision. Before you talk or text and walk, think twice about the potential consequences.

The Dangers of Cell Phone Use While Walking

Although many different things could distract a pedestrian while walking, cell phone use has proven to be the most common and the most dangerous form of distraction. Cell phones are especially risky because they absorb a pedestrian’s manual, cognitive, and visual attention. When texting or scrolling through social media sites on a cell phone, a pedestrian’s eyes are on the screen, hands (or at least one hand) are occupied with the device, and – perhaps most dangerous – mind is not on the walking task.

Cognitive distractions can be deadly for pedestrians. Pedestrians need to be able to dedicate 100% of their attention to the sidewalks, crosswalks, and roads they are traversing. Having one’s mind on a conversation, message, photo, or video instead of on staying safe on the road could mean a misstep that proves fatal. In fact, distracted walking has become such an issue that some countries have installed colored lights in the sidewalks to tell pedestrians who are looking down at their phones when to stop and go.

Pedestrians should never assume that motorists see them or will stop at red lights, stop signs, and crosswalks. Instead, they should assume the opposite – that drivers don’t see them and won’t stop. It is up to the pedestrian to stay on top of his or her safety even when a negligent driver isn’t paying attention. When a pedestrian lets his or her guard down and engages in distracted walking, it can be almost impossible to notice an oncoming vehicle. Pay more attention while you walk in Fort Lauderdale to reduce your risk of an accident.