Much is said about the dangers of texting while driving. Thirty-four states have enacted laws banning the practice, according to the government website distraction.gov. Federal authorities have passed regulations prohibiting commercial drivers from texting while operating buses or semi-trucks on federal highways. Studies have detailed the level of impairment drivers have when texting behind the wheel, and a number of national pledges have been signed by people who promise not to use their phones while driving.
However, there is a growing sentiment that texting while walking is equally as dangerous as distracted driving. Many of us think of the indelible YouTube image of a woman walking into a mall fountain, blithely unaware of her surroundings while texting away. While it was a comedic, pop-culture moment, other texting while walking incidents may end much more tragically.
Consider how many pedestrians cross busy intersections. If it is possible that drivers engrossed in text messaging may not see potential dangers, it is equally likely that texting pedestrians may be unaware that they are in harm’s way. Pedestrian accidents are usually caused by someone not obeying the rules of the road, whether it be jaywalking or crossing against traffic, or a driver not yielding the right of way. When a pedestrian is not paying attention, he or she may step into a dangerous intersection at the wrong time.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a pedestrian dies in the United States every 110 minutes. In cities with high pedestrian traffic, walking and texting could be particularly dangerous as such areas usually have issues with traffic violations (especially red-light infractions). While there are no statistics detailing whether texting while walking plays a part in such accidents, common sense dictates that distracted pedestrians are at greater risk for harm because they are not aware of potential dangers in their surroundings.
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