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Communities Fining People for Distracted Walking

How many people have tripped or had other minor accidents because they were engrossed in their cellphones?

For example, a 45-year-old woman recently fell into Lake Michigan when she walked off a pier while texting. She had to be rescued from the lake. In another example of how dangerous cellphone distraction can be, a California woman was killed after she crossed the street and ignored a red light because she was talking on her cellphone.

An Ohio State University study found that there were 1,000 emergency room visits across the nation due to pedestrian cellphone accidents in 2008; just imagine how much that number has grown with the increasing use of smart phones in recent years.

Fines for Distracted Walking
Many communities are so concerned with cellphone use while walking that they are starting to implement fines for distracted walking. For example, police in Fort Lee, New Jersey, issue $85 fines for careless walking.

These communities may be taking just the right steps to protect everyone. Pedestrian deaths increased 4.2 percent in 2010 and injuries increased by 19 percent. Car crash deaths, however, are decreasing in most areas. The rise in pedestrian deaths follows a 14 percent decrease between 2000 and 2009. Some attribute this increase, at least in part, to pedestrian distraction.

Public Awareness Campaigns
Delaware is taking a creative solution to the problem of walker distraction. Some communities in that state post signs on the sidewalk urging people to "look up." Many pedestrians believe that texting or Internet browsing while walking is safe, but when walking down the street people must make sure to keep their attention on the road because drivers may not see them before it's too late. This is especially true when drivers have a green light or do not have a stop sign.

More Data Needed
More data is needed to discover whether the increase in pedestrian deaths is due to distracted walking. It is important, however, that pedestrians remain alert when walking around town. Drivers also need to remain alert a nd watch for pedestrians. Pedestrians injured in accidents may have a legal remedy against the person that caused the accident. Through a personal-injury lawsuit, an injured pedestrian can seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.