Texting while walking blamed in the nationwide increase of pedestrian deaths



Federal study says the number of pedestrians who were killed rose from 4,109 to 4,432 in 2011.     Analysts list texting while walking as a major contributor.

Federal public safety initiative launched and some towns have started fining people $85 each time they catch them texting while walking.

The obvious dangers of texting while driving have been the focus of nationwide public service announcements, but now the dangers of distracted walking are coming to the forefront.

The number of pedestrians who died rose from 4,109 in 2009 to 4,432 in 2011 and an additional 69,000 injuries, according to a study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While it is hard to prove an exact number of how many injuries were caused by telephone distractions, an Ohio State University study that shows the dramatic increase in emergency room visits cause by distracted walking

‘If current trends continue, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of injuries to pedestrians caused by cell phones doubles again between 2010 and 2015,’ Ohio State University researcher Jack Nasar said after the school’s study about distracted walking.

A new public safety campaign is now in the works and KTLA reports that the federal government is hoping to have pedestrians put down the phone for their own safety.

‘We’ve done a good job alerting people to the dangers of being a distracted driver, but we haven’t done a good job of alerting people to the dangers of being a distracted pedestrian,’ said Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Some towns have taken the matter into their own hands, as police in Fort Lee, New Jersey has begun issuing tickets for reckless walking if they spot anyone walking and texting.

The sharp increase over two years has the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concerned about the fatal pattern

The sharp increase over two years has the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concerned about the fatal pattern

A Philadelphia man fell onto the train tracks in August 2012 but thankfully a Good Samaritan was able to help him off the tracks before a train arrived

In one month, the police department issued 117 tickets for reckless walking as of May 2012.

An Indiana mother named Bonnie Miller tried to use her own experience to warn others, as she had to be rescued from Lake Michigan after she fell in the water while walking on a pier and not paying attention.

‘I had set an appointment for the wrong time and so I sent about three words. Next thing you know it I was in the water,’ Mrs Miller said to ABC57.com following her accident in March 2012.

Her husband realized what was going on and jumped in after her as other passersby called for help.

Bonnie Miller was texting and walking when she didn’t realize she was at the end of a pier on Lake Michigan.

Her husband saw her fall and jumped in after her while passersby called police.

‘I can’t believe how many people came, I’m really quite embarrassed,’ Mrs Miller said. ‘I’m just so grateful to be alive, I have a new lease on life.’

In August of last year, a man in Philadelphia fell onto a train platform after he was distracted by a text. Thankfully he survived as there was no train due at that time and a Good Samaritan helped him get out of harm’s way.

One of the most extreme cases came when 19-year-old Ryan Robbins died in February 2011 after a night out in Melbourne, Australia as he accidentally walked over a short railing in a parking lot and plunged to his death while texting his friend.

The federal government is not the only one trying to stop the rise in injuries as a new app called Walk and Text that turns smart phones ‘see through’ and the screen shows a camera with a transparent keyboard.

That way true text addicts can continue to type messages while seeing if there is an errant pothole a few feet in front of them.