Safe Kids Worldwide conducted a study to explore results of a report they released in 2012. This study showed a 25% increase of pedestrian injuries among 16 to 19-year-olds within five years. Teens now comprise half of all fatal pedestrian cases among children ages 19 and below. President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, Kate Carr said they already suspected that the increase was due to distraction by mobile devices.
Why are teens distracted?
The problem is they did not have sufficient data to support that conclusion. To connect the dots, the organization mobilized their network to observe 34,000 students crossing in areas where they walk the most – school zones. Then they collected the results of the study. They found that 39% of students crossing the street were distracted by typing on a cell phone and another 39% were glued to their headphones. Around 20% were talking on the phone while 2% were using other electronic device, such as a gaming device or tablet. Along with the observational study, Safe Kids Worldwide also conducted over 2,400 discussions with students about their gadget habits. From that, they found that 49% admitted they used their cell phone while walk and four out of 10 confessed to listening to music while walking to school. Despite that, teens run the highest risk for pedestrian crashes. If fact, only 22% of the students believe that kids their age are most likely to be hit while walking.
What adults can do to help
For drivers, be aware of pedestrians – from bikers and walkers to runners – who might suddenly cross the street. Take the initiative to eliminate or reduce noise in your car so you can pay attention to your surroundings. Since we’ve heard about students using smart phones and other gadgets while walking, let's be extra careful when driving around school zones and residential areas.
For parents, be the role model and put down devices when you’re driving or walking, especially when crossing the street. This will help in conversations with your kids about walking around cars and crossing the street safely. Emphasize the importance of not only looking to their left and right, but also looking in front of them, listening and making eye contact.
As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I want to share this alarming information from a traffic safety fact sheet released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2011, 69,000 pedestrians were hurt, and 11,000 of them were below the age of 14-years-old. Around 4,400 injuries account for fatal cases. Using smart phones and devices isn’t wrong, but excessive, irresponsible use is wrong. Let's not only remind our kids to put down their gadgets when walking around vehicles, but do it ourselves.