College Students and Distracted Walking Accidents
How often does distracted walking result in pedestrian accidents in the West Palm Beach area? According to a recent article in the Tampa Bay Times, distracted walking is a particularly big problem among college-aged pedestrians. Whether it is young pedestrians who attend Florida Atlantic University or another college or university on Florida’s east coast, it is important to understand the risks of distracted walking and to take steps to avoid a collision with an automobile. As the article discusses, a recent study conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham suggests that more than one-third of all college students engage in distracted walking regularly, putting them at risk of serious personal injury.
What is Distracted Walking?
Distracted walking is not so different from distracted driving. It simply refers to walking without paying appropriate attention to the surroundings. It may involve, for example, being distracted visually from motorists or bicyclists on the road, or being aurally distracted from the sound of a honking car horn.
While you do not need a smartphone to engage in distracted walking, smartphones have led to significantly more distraction among motorists and pedestrians alike in recent years. As an article from the National Safety Council (NSC) emphasizes, distracted walking can occur when a pedestrian is listening to music through headphones or even thinking about something other than the risk of being struck by a motor vehicle, but mobile phones have made distracted far worse.
More Than 35 Percent of College Students Regularly Engage in Distracted Walking
Last year, a team of researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined the frequency with which college students engage in distracted walking and the level of “campus distraction” among students on foot. They analyzed data from urban campuses and determined that “more than 35 percent of the college students crossing busy streets . . . were distracted, almost always by hand-held mobile devices.”
The lead author of the study, David Schwebel, was interested in determining whether distracted walking with mobile phones was a primary cause for the rising rate of pedestrian accidents among young adults. Between 2010 and 2015, the rate of pedestrian collisions with motor vehicles among people in that age group rose by 25 percent. Schwebel and the other researchers found that “college-aged young adults use handheld technology more than any other age group, which may lead to distracted walking.” Indeed, “young adults text over 100 times a day on average and check their cellular device multiple times an hour even when not prompted by an alert.”
In discussing the study, the Tampa Bay Times article explored distracted walking statistics in Florida, specifically on the University of South Florida (USF) campus. Many students admitted to crossing streets without looking up from their phones. Can college campuses do anything to help prevent accidents? Schwebel and others suggest that raising awareness among students is the best prevention method. Other previously employed methods, such as lower speed limits, actually may lead to increased accidents. As two other researchers clarified, “because of low, 15- to 25-mph speed limits on campus, [students] are lulled into believing that cars will stop for them.”
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in West Palm Beach
While distracted driving may increase a pedestrian’s risk of an accident, it is important to remember that motorists are required to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and to be aware of pedestrians crossing at intersections. If you were injured in a collision with a motor vehicle, you should talk to a West Palm Beach car accident attorney about your case. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC for more information.