Pedestrians are at Increased Risk of Collision if Distracted by Phones

According to the National Safety Council, over 90% of car crashes involve human error–awareness is key to avoiding collisions whether you are in the car or a pedestrian.

Pedestrian Fatalities

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of pedestrian fatalities in 2018 reached 6,283, the highest since 1990. Pedestrian fatalities account for nearly 20% of all traffic crashes in 2018 in the United States. Distraction plays a role in many of the crashes that occur in either the driver, pedestrian, or both.

Pedestrian Distraction

While many know of the effects of distracted driving on accident rates, people often overlook distracted pedestrian behavior as a contributing element to fatal crashes. A new research analysis of 14 previous studies has shown that pedestrians who are texting or browsing on a mobile device are more likely than others to engage in dangerous distracted behaviors. This study found that texting or browsing significantly reduced a participant’s likelihood of looking both ways before crossing; none of the other tested distractions had a significant change for this. The study also found that texting or browsing had a medium increase in the rates of collisions or close calls between cars and pedestrians, talking on the phone had a small increase, and the other tested distractions including listening to music had no significant change from the baseline. Of the tested participants, distraction by texting or browsing led to riskier actions while crossing the road. However, the authors of the analysis explained that there are limitations to it such as the differences between the procedures of the studies it examined.

Recommendations from the National Safety Council

Pedestrians will often assume that they do not need to be paying attention while crossing the road, but this is really not the case. The National Safety Council recommends avoiding distractions while walking, especially in high traffic urban settings, where pedestrians are the most vulnerable. Their “Head Up, Phone Down” campaign encourages pedestrians to stop using their phones entirely while walking. Phone usage causes a loss of focus, so they recommend that if you need to use your phone while walking, you should move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk.