Walk down any street in New York and you’ll see people on their phones. They’re talking. They’re texting. They’re listening to music and playing video games.
What they’re not doing is paying attention. And that lack of attention can turn any one of them into one of the pedestrians who are killed or injured on Long Island and in New York City each year.
Recent studies highlight the dangers of using cellphones while walking – even in places that might seem safe.
- Distracted walking can land you in the emergency room.
An estimated 1,500 people were treated in emergency rooms in the United States in 2010 for injuries received while using their cellphones and walking, according to a study by researchers Ohio State University. That’s more than twice as many as in 2005, even though the total number of pedestrian injuries dropped during that time period. And the number includes only the injuries that led to emergency room visits. The researchers believe the actual number of injuries due to distracted walking is much higher.
- Young people are more likely than older people to be injured while walking and using a phone.
Young people think they can use their phones while carrying on other activities, but that’s not true when it comes to walking. The Ohio State study found that 16- to 25-year-olds were the most likely group to be injured as a result of walking and using a cellphone. Similarly, a 2012 Pew Research Center survey found that cellphone owners aged 18-24 were more likely than older users to report bumping into things.
- Talking is as big a distraction as texting.
The distractions of texting get a lot of attention, but talking on the phone was actually the distraction that led to 69 percent of the emergency room visits in the Ohio State study. The study spanned the years from 2004 to 2010, when texting and smartphone use were not as prevalent as they are now.
- In New York, you’re not safe just because you’re in a crosswalk.
A recent study of New York City emergency room patients found that 44 percent of pedestrians who were injured in the street were in a crosswalk, with the light in their favor. That makes it all the more important to pay attention while crossing the street.
- Distracted walking injuries aren’t limited to crossing the street.
You may think it’s safe to walk and text when you’re not crossing a street, but that’s not the case. The Internet is full of videos of people colliding with objects – including the ever-popular one of a woman falling into a mall fountain – because they’re too focused on their phones to notice where they’re going. And those collisions can lead to injuries.
Stopping in the middle of a sidewalk in New York to text is a bad idea because the chances are other people will bump into you. Nearly a quarter of the respondents in the Pew Research Center survey said they had bumped into another person or object while using a cellphone, and half said someone else had bumped into them while distracted by a phone.
If you are injured in an accident involving cellphone use or another type of distracted walking, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. A personal injury lawyer can evaluate the circumstances of your case and help determine who is at fault.