Although federal traffic safety agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have devoted an enormous amount of attention to the growing epidemic of distracted driving, far less attention has been placed on collisions involving distracted pedestrians. However, a recent study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University and published in Accident Analysis and Prevention found that approximately 1,500 pedestrians per year are treated in hospital emergency rooms after being struck by a vehicle while trying to use a cell phone while walking.

The most alarming aspect of this study is that the number of distracted pedestrian collisions appears to be rising sharply. The number of people treated for distracted walking accidents doubled during the five year period preceding the recent study. This sharp increase in distracted pedestrian accidents stands in contrast to the overall decline in pedestrian accidents during the same period. The authors of the study speculate that the number of pedestrians who are injured while attempting to multi-task as they walk is likely to double again in the subsequent five year period.

The researchers also suggest that the number of motor vehicle-pedestrian collisions involving distracted pedestrians is substantially underreported. Because of the limited number of studies involving distracted pedestrian accidents, it is difficult to quantify the degree to which these numbers understate the seriousness of the problem. However, the authors suggest that the underreporting of distracted driving accidents based on reports in hospital emergency rooms provides a reasonable basis for comparison. Distracted driving accidents reported by hospital emergency rooms across the country understate the number of distracted driving collisions involving cell phones by about 1,300 times according to the researchers. The authors of the new study contend that based on the same ratio of underreporting, it is fair to assume that approximately two million pedestrians are injured in distracted walking accidents while talking or texting on a cell phone each year.

While text messaging is viewed as more dangerous for those operating motor vehicles, these projections suggest that distracted walking may be a vehicle safety issue that justifies comparable focus by policymakers and the public. Approximately, seventy percent of those involved in pedestrian crashes while using a cell phone were engaged in voice calls while only nine percent were engaged in text messaging. The researchers speculate that texting and walking is not safer than talking and walking, but texting may be more difficult making pedestrians more prone to talk on their cell phone.

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If you or a family member is injured in a distracted pedestrian accident, our Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been representing injury victims for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.