We rarely are more vulnerable than when walking in urban areas, crossing busy streets and negotiating traffic. And we all are pedestrians from time to time, so it's important to pay attention to what is going on around us.
Cell Phone Distracted Walking
It has become such a big problem in recent years that Injury Facts® 2015, the statistical report on unintentional deaths and injuries published by the National Safety Council, for the first time has included statistics on cell phone distracted walking.
According to Injury Facts, distracted walking incidents involving cell phones accounted for more than 11,100 injuries between 2000 and 2011.
- 52% of cell phone distracted walking injuries happen at home
- 68% of those injured are women
- 54% are age 40 or younger
- Nearly 80% of the injuries were due to a fall
The Vehicle Factor
While many communities are implementing measures to become more "walkable," like adding more paths and traffic-calming measures, there still is a long way to go to keep pedestrians safe. Malls surrounded by parking lots, few sidewalks, blind intersections and high traffic areas all contribute to pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
According Injury Facts 2015:
- In 2013, 6,100 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles
- That same year, about 160,000 pedestrian injuries required medical attention
- 23 percent of deaths and injuries result from pedestrians darting into the street, with the majority of those younger than age 15
- The number of pedestrian deaths has decreased significantly since the 1970s; during that decade, deaths were between 8,400 and 10,300
- During the decade from 2002 to 2013, death rates didn't change much; they hovered around 6,000, with a low of 5,300 in 2009
Head Up, Phone Down
While pedestrian-vehicle injuries are the fifth leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19, according to SafeKids.org, no age group is immune. Here are a few tips from NHTSA and NSC for children and adults of all ages:
- Look left, right and left again before crossing the street; looking left a second time is necessary because a car can cover a lot of distance in a short amount of time
- Make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you
- Be aware of drivers even when you're in a crosswalk; vehicles have blind spots
- Don't wear headphones while walking
- Never use a cell phone or other electronic device while walking
- If your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic
- Never rely on a car to stop
- Children younger than 10 should cross the street with an adult
- Only cross at designated crosswalks
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing
- Walk in groups
Walking is one of the best things we can do to stay healthy, but only if we put safety first. At the National Safety Council, we don't believe in accidents. Please join us in doing everything you can to prevent senseless injuries and deaths.