I can’t tell you how many times I have been walking on a sidewalk and had to move over so someone wouldn’t walk into me. I find myself wondering what are they doing that is so important and interesting on that phone. A sidewalk crash usually results in minimal injuries; however, crossing the street with your eyes focused on the phone can result in major injuries and even death. One study reported that 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 8 middle school students cross the street while distracted by a device. Overall about half of the pedestrians crossing at intersections do so while engaged in distracting activities.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that distracted pedestrians may have contributed to the 4,200 pedestrian deaths and 70,000 traffic crashes in 2010. Another study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association reported that 54% of adult cell phone users have run into something or someone while distracted by their devices. The National Safety Council now collects data on “cell phone distracted walking.” They reported that between 2000 and 2011, 80% of the over 11,100 distracted walking injuries occurred as a result of a fall, and 9% were from people walking into motionless objects. These are things like street lights, fire hydrants and trees.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons commissioned a study in 2015 to learn more about distracted walking. They found that a majority of respondents (78%) saw this as a serious issue, but most of them believed the problem was “other people” not themselves. Of those who walk distracted, about 28% feel they can multitask and 22% are busy and want to use their that time productively. According to the National Safety Council multitasking is a myth. The human brain does not perform two tasks at one time. The brain juggles tasks, which means it juggles focus and attention.
This month we are celebrating Earth Day. I encourage you not to be a “pedtextrian.” Instead, lift your eyes up, unplug your ear buds and see and hear nature all around you!
Celebrate everyday as Earth Day.