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New Study Reveals Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices Are A Dangerous Distracton for Young Pedestrians

posted on: 09/24/2013

TOLEDO, Ohio, September 3, 2013- One in five high school students and one in eight middle school students crosses the street while distracted, according to a new research report, "Teens and Distraction: An In-Depth Look at Teens' Walking Behaviors," funded by FedEx and released by Safe Kids Worldwide.

The study was developed to explore findings from a 2012 Safe Kids report that found pedestrian injuries among 16-19 year olds are on the rise. Teens now account for half of all pedestrian deaths among children 19 and under.

"Distraction is a big problem, both while driving and walking," said Melissa Sanchez, Bike and Pedestrian Safety Coordinator, Safe Kids Greater Toledo. "Parents, talk to your kids to make sure they are paying full attention when crossing the street. And we adults need to follow our own advice. If we put our devices down, our kids are more likely to do the same."

The report presents an observational study that recorded more than 34,000 middle and high school students crossing the street in a school zone. Conducted in 7 states and 68 schools, the study looked at whether teens are crossing the street while distracted, and if so, what devices they are using. Here are the findings:

- 39% were texting on cell phones
- 39% were listening to headphones
- 20% were talking on cell phones
- 2% were using other electronic devices (e.g., tablet, video game)

According to the study, one in five high school students and one in eight middle school students were observed crossing the street distracted. Girls were 1.2 times more likely than boys to be walking while distracted. The entire report is avaiable at www.safekids.org. Below are safety tips for parents, teens, and drivers. For more information and to reach a Safe Kids of Greater Toledo representative, please call 419-291-5993.

Watch Moment of Silence by Safe Kids Worldwide.

Get Involved: sign up for the Distracted Walking Pledge.

Tips for Parents
- Speak to your children about the dangers of distraction.
- Talk to teens about putting down mobile devices while walking and remind them of the importance of looking up, listening, and making eye contact when crossing the street.
- Set a good example by putting devices down when you are driving or walking around cars.

Tips for Teens
- Put devices down, look up, listen, and make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
- Remember to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up. Walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners with traffic signals and crosswalks when possible.
- Be aware of others who may be distracted- and speak up when you see someone who is distracted.
- If you need to use a cell phone, stop on the sidewalk and find a safe area to talk. If you are wearing headphones, pull them down before you cross the street or turn the volume off.
- Turn off devices in places where cars are going in unexpected directions, like backing out of a parking spot or turning out of a driveway.

Tips for Drivers
- Look both ways for bikers, walkers, or runners who may not be immediately visible or may step into the street unexpectedly.
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
- Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.