While nearly everyone is aware of the risk of using cell phones and texting while driving, many are not cognizant of the dangers of these and other electronic distractions when it comes to pedestrians. Serious injuries and deaths among pedestrians listening to headphones, talking on cellphones, or texting have more than tripled in the last six years, according to a recent study. For example, pedestrian deaths in Ohio increased by 9.4% in 2010. Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine studied 116 pedestrian accidents from 204 to 2011 where headphone use by the pedestrian was documented. Seventy percent of these accidents involved fatal injuries to the pedestrian. These accident victims were predominantly young men under the age of 30.
The researchers observed two phenomena in connection with these pedestrian accidents: sensory deprivation and distraction. The term “inattentional blindness” has been coined to describe the distraction that results from the use of electronic devices. When this distraction is compounded by “sensory deprivation” from the wearing of headphones or use of portable electronic devices, the ability to hear a car honk or a train whistle a warning can be significantly decreased.
“It’s a concern and I would say it’s a big concern,” said Jack Nasar, a professor in Ohio State’s Department of City and Regional Planning. “People are becoming more aware of the issues with being distracted while driving, especially texting while driving. But with pedestrians, they think, ‘Well, I should be able to walk and chew gum or do multiple things.'”
This growing problem has led legislators in at least two states to proposed restrictions on using cellphones and music playing electronic devices such as iPods while running, walking, or cycling on the street or sidewalk.
For more information, contact the Ohio pedestrian accident attorneys at Clark, Perdue & List.
Source: Columbus Dispatch, “Pedestrian deaths up in Ohio, nationally,” Kyle Nagel, Aug. 11, 2012.