One of the benefits of living in Bellingham is that it's so walkable, and there are many paths around town that keep pedestrians away from vehicular traffic. We have Western Washington University, and many students who rely on their feet to get around town. However, no city is immune to the dangers of placing pedestrians and cars (and trucks and trains) in close proximity. With the distractions of all our many modern devices, the risks have increased and distracted walking is on the rise, along with the inevitable accidents that come from it.
How prevalent is distracted walking? One study found 60% of people have engaged in other activities while walking. These activities include emailing, texting, listening to music, or talking. Quite honestly, with the ubiquity of those activities and the ease of doing so with all the gadgets that support it (headphones, backpacks with a built-in pocket for the phone and an outlet for the headphones, not to mention Bluetooth), I don't know many people who haven't walked while distracted. And yet recent statistics reveal a disturbing trend, that people think it's only bad if other people are doing this, but don't see themselves as doing something risky and foolish.
Here are data from a recent study conducted by The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
- 78% of nearly 6,000 respondents said distracted walking is a major problem, but only 29% admitted to actually walking while distracted.
- 40% of respondents say they've witnessed a distracted walking incident. Yet just 26% said they've been involved in such an incident.
- 81% of adults over age 35 name distracted walking as a serious concern. But almost 3/4 of younger respondents agreed with that. Half of the below age 35 set said distracted walking was more comical than dangerous.
- Yet they're the ones getting injured at higher rates. Millenials are more likely to suffer injuries than older walkers.
If you think you're somehow better able to handle distractions than others, you may be fooling yourself. Read on to learn more: