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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Distracted Walking a Growing and Serious Problem

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Everyone does it these days–walk and stare down at or talk on their cell phones. It seems so harmless since you're not driving a car, but it can actually be equally as dangerous. Take, for example, a young man in Philadelphia who was distracted while talking on his cell phone and accidentally came too close to the edge of the train platform at night. He was pitched over the edge and onto the tracks, and thankfully there was no train coming at that moment. However, it took him a good couple of minutes to gather himself up and climb out–minutes he may not have had if a train was approaching. This incident underscores the dangers of distracted walking.

In fact, injuries to distracted pedestrians have quadrupled over the past seven years and are likely underreported. The problem is becoming somewhat of a quandry for lawmakers who are trying to decide how best to protect people from themselves. They can't obviously take away technology, but something still needs to be done to stem the serious and growing problem. Although there have been attempts to ban distracted walking in several states, they have all fallen flat. For example, Arkansas, Illinois and New York all tried to pass distracted walking bans that failed when they got to the state legislatures.

Cell phones aren't the only distraction causing people to get injured or losing their lives. Instead, several tapes from The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority depict riders who were accidentally struck by trains while wearing headphones that prevented them from hearing the horn or while they trespassed onto the tracks. Overall, psychological studies show that people cannot focus on two things at once, and instead their attention must shift back and forth between two tasks which splits their focus and makes it less effective. So even if you think you can succesfully navigate the sidewalk or train station while talking or texting, think again–Centers for Disease Control statistics suggest that about 1,152 people were injured last year alone while walking and using their cell phones are other electronic devices.