By Liberty Mutual
Distracted Walking Torch Blog Banner
We all know distracted driving is dangerous, but what about distracted walking? Few consider the hazards of crossing the street in a distracted state. Liberty Mutual Insurance recently published a Pedestrian Safety Survey. The data revealed that 60 percent of pedestrians do other things while they're walking; like texting, emailing, talking on the phone, or listening to music despite that 70 percent considering those behaviors to be dangerous while walking in a crosswalk- but that doesn't stop them. Distracted pedestrians may have been a contributing factor in the 4,200 pedestrians' deaths and 70,000 injuries in traffic crashes in 2010, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

"So much attention has been paid, and rightly so, to distracted driving that we have ignored the fact that distracted walking and crossing can be just as risky," said David Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance. "From an early age, we all learn how to safely cross the street - look both ways, wait for the walk sign - but as adults many of us seem to forget those simple rules."

Of the more than 1,000 adults surveyed by Liberty Mutual, 55 percent consider texting or emailing while crossing a street to be the most dangerous activity when walking - that's more than those who feel running across a street to beat oncoming traffic (40 percent) or jaywalking (24 percent) to be the most dangerous. Such pedestrian safety concerns are valid, as a 2011 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that 1,152 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms after being injured while walking and using a cell phone or some other electronic device.

Drivers also realize that talking on the phone, texting and listening to loud music is dangerous for pedestrians yet a significant percentage of respondents continue to engage in behavior they recognize as risky. For example, three in five drivers say talking on the phone while driving is dangerous for pedestrians, yet 70 percent still admit to doing so.

"The reality is that neither drivers nor pedestrians seem to actually realize the dangers of their distracted behaviors," added Melton. "The fact that drivers and pedestrians continue to engage in dangerous habits, despite claiming to recognize the risk, suggests that the majority of Americans are taking a cavalier, 'it won't happen to me' attitude, but the numbers suggest otherwise. As the weather warms up and we head into the summer driving season, pedestrians and drivers need to take extra precautions to ensure the safety of everyone on the roads, whether on foot or behind the wheel."


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