Cell phones are a marvel of technology that offers the opportunity to be connected at nearly any time and in nearly any place. Just because they offer this opportunity, however, doesn’t mean that we should necessarily take it.
In recent years, there has been a fair amount of public backlash over the constant use of smartphones. Over-use in public settings, like restaurants and movie theaters, has been deemed rude and obnoxious. Games have been created to reward people for not using their cell phones. (Consider the game that has restaurant guests placing their phones in the center of the table during the meal, and whoever reaches for his or her phone first pays the bill). And a recent prankster garnered millions of YouTube hits after he uploaded a video of himself “crashing” other people’s cell phone conversations in an airport.
But cell phone use in public settings isn’t just rude—it can also be dangerous. How is this possible?
Pedestrians distracted by their phones can be a danger to themselves and others, according to a study cited in USA Today. People who are staring intently at their phones—instead of at their surroundings—may accidentally walk into another person, a cyclist, an obstacle in the path (like a telephone pole), or even traffic.
In one case, a texting teen fell down a manhole and fortunately only suffered minor cuts and bruises.
Unfortunately, this problem, like distracted driving, has only gotten more prevalent in the past decade. USA Today reports that, between 2004 and 2010, the number of pedestrians visiting the emergency room due to phone-related accidents more than doubled. In 2004, the number was 559. In 2010, it jumped to 1,500.
The number of people injured in this type of accident is likely much higher, because not all injuries require emergency medical attention.
Adults under the age of 30—specifically those between the ages of 16 and 25—are most at risk for phone-related injuries. College campuses, which typically feature heavier foot traffic, are rife with “distracted walking.” Johns Hopkins University, for example, launched its Road Scholar Initiative in 2012 to educate students about smart pedestrian and cycling behavior.
At Martinson & Beason, P.C., your safety is one of our biggest concerns. We encourage you to put down your phone while walking. You can’t prevent all pedestrian accidents, but you can reduce your risk.
Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/40510080@N04/7370505166/”>DaveLawler</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>