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Elderly Pedestrians Face Increased Risk of Injury When Engaged in Distracted Walking

October 20, 2013

While public awareness regarding the dangers associated with distracted driving has been on the rise for several years, attention has only recently turned to collisions involving distracted pedestrians.  It is extremely common to see pedestrians jog while listening on earphones or to observe motorists staring down at their cell phone as they send a text message.  The risk of falling or stepping out into traffic increases dramatically when people multi-task while walking, jogging and running.  However, a study suggests that elderly pedestrians face a more significant risk when they negotiate intersections while distracted by electronic devices and other distractions.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois and published in the Psychology and Aging journal reveals that pedestrians age 59 to 81 are at substantially greater risk when crossing the street while using a mobile phone.  According to the researchers, those in this age group face a greater risk because they take longer to cross the street when talking on a cell phone than younger pedestrians.  Although older pedestrians exhibited a higher degree of caution when crossing the street, this heightened vigilance did not reduce the danger nor were the seniors as likely to cross in the time allotted.

The researchers had 18 college students and 18 seniors crossing a simulated street under disparate conditions including talking on a cell phone, listening to music or focusing entirely on crossing the street.  The study revealed that the seniors exhibited significant impairment.  Elderly pedestrians were most adversely impacted while engaging in cell phone conversations.  Interestingly, there was no significant impact on the younger pedestrians.  While prior evidence has revealed that distracted pedestrians exhibit similar impaired performance in multi-tasking activities, the tasks involved in those studies were more complex according to one of the authors of the study.

This study provides further insight into the risk of serious injury or wrongful death posed to distracted pedestrians.  According to another study published in the journal Injury Prevention, a third of all pedestrians engage in dual tasks while traveling on foot.  There were only one in four of those distracted pedestrians who engaged in the full safety routine of checking both ways and obeying the traffic signals before stepping out into traffic at an intersection.  Those multi-tasking while crossing the street took on average of 0.75 to 1.29 seconds longer to cross the street than those who were not engaged in some form of distracting activity.  Pedestrians engaged in text messaging took a full two seconds longer to cross the street.

The authors of the Injury Prevention study report that approximately 4,000 people per year die in pedestrian accidents while another 60,000 people suffer injury when they are struck by motor vehicles.  If you or a close family member is injured in a pedestrian accident, our experienced Atlanta pedestrian accident attorneys diligently pursue compensation for those injured by negligent drivers.  Our Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those 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.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.