Distracted Walking – Phones and Pedestrians Do Not Mix

August 25, 2017

Distracted walking

We are all familiar with the risks of distracted driving. But what about the risks of distracted walking? Recently, there has been an increase in injuries due to pedestrians looking at their phones instead of where they are going. While pedestrians do have the right of way when it comes to walking about, if someone suddenly walks in front of a car because they aren’t walking safely, chances are good that the person will be entirely to blame for any incidents that occur. In fact, walking out in front of a car could end up with the pedestrian being sued by the driver, if the driver gets injured. Of course, the more serious issues is that the pedestrian could be killed. And that is what is happening. People are getting seriously injured and even killed due to distractions from their phones.

The Numbers Tell the Story

People who walk and use their cell phones are “61 percent more likely to veer off course, and 13 percent more likely to overshoot their target than when they were not distracted.” The problem is so common that the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) has begun a distracted walking campaign. In Philadelphia, the problem of phone use while walking is great enough that the city created a safety campaign.

Unsafe Walking Behavior

Walking while distracted

Walking while distracted leads to car v. pedestrian crashes, falls and other problems.

Here are some real life examples of what people have done to get themselves injured because of using their phones while walking:

  1. Facetiming does not mix with walking. “A young woman was using FaceTime on her phone and walked into the street directly into the path of a passing car.” This event happened right here in Pennsylvania. The 14 year old was walking near Abington High School, “when she stepped off the sidewalk and directly into the path of a SUV.” Unfortunately, the driver did not have time to stop, and hit the girl. The girl  was knocked unconscious. The driver pulled over right away to help, and of course is not facing any charges. If you look at the pictures in the article, you can see that it looks like there was quite an impact between the car and the girl. It is our hope that she will be ok. The lesson to be learned here is to instruct your teens about walking and using their cell phones at the same time.
  2. In Philadelphia, a woman was killed by a Duck Boat while crossing the street. Unfortunately, the woman was “distracted by an iPad” and walked into the street. Apparently she was even clipped by the vehicle before she was hit again. The boat had a green light, and the woman’s back was turned at the time she was hit and killed. In this case, the family of the woman is suing the company. They claim that there are too many blind spots and the drivers are too distracted.
  3. A young man talking on his phone got too close to the edge of a train platform. He fell and landed head first on the tracks. Fortunately, no trains were coming. He was lucky. Other people have been hit and killed by trains when not paying attention because of their phones.
  4. We have all seen the videos. A man walks into a wall while texting. A woman falls into a fountain.

Why is Distracted Walking Unsafe?

The issue is pretty straight forward. If you are looking down, you aren’t paying attention to where you are going. It is very easy to step off a curb into traffic, which can result in getting hit by a car. In addition, listening to loud music can make it hard to hear traffic coming by. It is important that you both listen and watch while you are walking.

How to Stay Safe

The simple answer is, put your phone away, or don’t look at it while walking. Also, consider keeping only one ear covered, while listening to music, and keep the volume low enough so you can hear what is going on around you. If you must make a call or look at your phone, move out of the way of other pedestrians and into a safe place. Then use your phone as needed.

Hurt When Out and About?

If you are walking safely and still get injured due to someone else’s negligence, Lowenthal & Abrams is here to help. Please feel free to contact us. There is no charge for the consultation.



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