Distracted Teen Danger Not Limited To Behind The Wheel

According to a recent CBS News report, the dangers of teenagers being distracted by cellphones and other devices is not limited to their time behind the wheel.  It turns out, teenagers are endangering themselves and others because they are distracted and walking around traffic.  The report notes a 25% increase in pedestrian accidents among sixteen to nineteen year olds during the last five years, with this small and seemingly more mature demographic making up half of all pedestrian deaths for those under age twenty.

We have all witnessed the trend, from kids a few years ago texting on flip-style cell phones while sitting on the couch watching television to kids today multitasking, texting, surfing the web, and listening to music on their oversized headphones all while walking down the street.  Parents know the difficulty of getting their teenagers to put down their phones, and many homes now have cell phone free times and places (like around the dinner table, for example).  But one place that has been overlooked as a cell phone free zone is when crossing the street.  CBS cites a study where fully one in five adolescents entering a crosswalk near school were distracted be their mobile devices.

While parents are already talking to their kids about cellphone free time at home and distraction-free driving, parents should not overlook having serious talks with teenagers about the dangers of being distracted and walking, especially around streets and cars.  Teens often take for granted that cars will slow down for pedestrian right-of-way areas, but we all know this is often not the case.  Of course, this is not a problem limited to teenagers.  In any city you’ll see adults of all walks of life crossing the street, often in a hurry, while on the phone.

Entering a busy street as a pedestrian requires all of your faculties to ensure your own safety.  With the rise of distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians, we have unfortunately seen an increase in pedestrian accidents.  Parents, please talk to your children about the dangers of being a distracted pedestrian.  Drivers of all ages, please be aware of this problem.  Distracted pedestrians are a danger to themselves and to you.  They may not see you or hear you, and even if they do, they may be too distracted to use good judgment.  When you see a pedestrian on their phone on the sidewalk at an intersection, use caution.

Modern communication devices are a wonderful thing.  They allow us to communicate with people and find information from all over the world instantly and relatively cheaply.  But like all tools, they must be used responsibly.  Everything has its time and place, and for cell phones, driving or walking through an intersection is neither the time nor place.  Moms and dads, take time to talk to your kids about how responsible cell phone use includes putting the phone away completely when entering an area where cars will be moving.  Safekids.org has a powerful ad campaign called “Moment of Silence” promoting putting down mobile devices when crossing the street.  It’s a good video to share with your kids.  If you know how, you may even want to send it to them to see on their phones.

The personal injury attorneys at Jinks, Crow & Dickson, PC, are committed to promoting safety.  We know all too well the dangers hidden in many products and the harm distracted people can cause to others, and we fight every day for justice for those injured because of someone else’s negligence or an unsafe product.  Please help us in spreading the word to teens about this common and dangerous behavior many of them may have never thought of as dangerous.

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