Teenagers on cell phones make up half of all child pedestrian deaths that occur in the U.S. In the last five years alone, the number of pedestrian deaths has increased by 25%. In fact, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were fatally injured in 2016, and the number continues to increase.
Unsafe driving is the biggest cause resulting in pedestrian fatalities. Another significant factor is electronic devices. The use of wireless devices can cause such a severe and dangerous distraction to pedestrians and drivers alike that the results are often deadly.
In recent years, studies have exposed how dangerous distracted driving is. Likewise, walking on a sidewalk and looking at your cell phone is also risky behavior. A spokesperson from the National Safety Council (NSC) noted that the agency has monitored this increase in recent years; pedestrians have been injured more frequently because they are distracted by their phones and fail to observe their surroundings.
Teens are particularly susceptible to this type of distraction because of how immersed in technology they can be. Another factor is that many are not yet of driving age, and are more likely to be walking to or from school or for other activities. A video by Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW) polled teenagers on whether or not they text when they are crossing the street. Over 50% of responders admitted that they did, and said that although they know it is dangerous, it is often too tempting not to.
So what will limit the number of teenagers who fall prey to fatal distractions? Some teens in the SKW video said that they had been previously unaware of how dangerous it was to text and cross the street. Others said that if there were public service announcements alerting them to how dangerous it could be, that perhaps it would influence a positive change. A few said that without having their phones physically taken away, they would continue to engage in the dangerous behavior.
SKW compiled a report that cites other contributing risk factors and general information to teenage pedestrian injuries and deaths. In its report, the SKW found that 75% of teenage pedestrian fatalities occurred between the darker hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. The chance of an accident increased when teens crossed in the middle of a street, failing to use pedestrian crosswalks, or while they were running, perhaps giving drivers less of a response time to see them. Teens who were listening to music and had headphones in were also more likely to be distracted.
Every hour in the U.S. a teenager is injured or fatally injured while they are walking. And, at least 40% of teens admit that they have nearly been hit by a car, motorcycle or bicycle as pedestrians. Parents and caregivers can hope to influence a change by communicating with their teenagers, talking to them about the dangers of being distracted by cell phones and other technological devices. The SKW compiled a helpful list of safety tips and instructions for talking to your teenager about pedestrian safety, which you can view here.
If you or a loved one has been injured, please call the knowledgeable Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP. With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.