Another summer in Maryland draws to a close, way too soon. This means streets in Baltimore and other Md. cities and towns are filling up with kids and teens heading back to school. What’s different about today’s youth compared to when we grew up is most have a cell phone in their hands. Texting friends is a way of staying constantly connected. It’s also a way for parents to keep tabs on their tech-savvy children.
Unfortunately, there’s a serious downside to texting. The well-documented hazards of texting while driving have prompted many states, including Maryland, to make the practice illegal. (FYI: Maryland lawmakers closed a legal loophole in Oct. 2011 that allowed drivers to text at stoplights.) It’s easy to see how texting while driving can lead to serious and fatal motor vehicle crashes. Taking one’s eyes off the road for a few seconds to read and send text messages is more than enough time for a serious auto accident to occur.
Now texting while walking is getting more media attention, as pedestrian accident injuries and deaths are up nationwide. Too many people are walking around with their heads down, paying more attention to their cell phones than the traffic racing around them.
A video report on ABC News (see link below) shows pedestrians from Los Angeles to New York walking obliviously into traffic — heads down, cell phones in hand, and many with ears blocked by headsets. It’s a deadly recipe for disaster. With so many adults walking around distracted by their cell phones, it’s no wonder children are following in their footsteps.
Safe Kids Worldwide did a study of some 34,000 teens. The group found that fatalities due to distracted walking have increased 25 percent over the last 5 years. The study reports:
“A shocking 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 8 middle school students were observed crossing the street while distracted by technology.”
While teens might be the worst offenders when it comes to texting while walking, adult pedestrians are also guilty and setting a bad example.
This should give drivers in Maryland and around the country pause to consider what more kids on the streets heading back to school — with cell phones in hand and headphones in ears — means for traffic and pedestrian safety. Slow down and keep your eyes on the road. Pedestrians, including school children, may have their eyes on their cell phones instead.
Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:
Maryland Seeks to Add More Teeth to Distracted Driver Laws (May 2012)
University of Maryland Research : Pedestrians Wearing Headphones at Greater Risk for Traffic Accident Injury and Death (Feb. 2012)
Pedestrian Deaths Linked to Texting and Walking
Walkers distracted by technology in fatal accidents are on the rise.
ABCNews.com Aug. 26, 2013
Research Report: Teens and Distraction
Safe Kids Worldwide Aug. 26, 2013
Related Web Resources:
Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
Everyone’s a Pedestrian
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration