Walking is a great way to get exercise, and many of us walk a lot, especially on vacation.
Cities are also trying to attract residents by making suburbs as well as city centers pedestrian friendly. But as the Chicago-based Property Casualty Insurers Association of America notes, when you’re enjoying a leisurely stroll through some new and beautiful city or even your own home town, it’s important to keep your focus and be aware of your surroundings. You’re more distracted by your smartphone than you may realize.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrians were one of the few groups of road users to experience an increase in fatalities in the United States in 2013, totaling 4,735 deaths. NHTSA also found that nearly 3 out of 4 pedestrian deaths occur in urban environments (73%), at nonintersections (70%), during night (70%), and many involve alcohol. Pedestrians and drivers don’t obey laws and signals consistently, NHTSA says, and many often use cellphones and music players while walking or driving.
A recent online survey conducted in June 2016 by Harris Poll on behalf of PCI among over 2,000 U.S. adults shows that the U.S. cities that are considered the most walkable may also be the most dangerous for pedestrians. The survey asked in which U.S. cities would the respondents expect to find distracted pedestrians and which cities are the most walkable.
Here are the five cities that topped the list, based on survey responses:
5. San Francisco
Most distracted pedestrians: 27%.
Most walkable city: 27%.
Most distracted pedestrians: 19%.
Most walkable city: 31%.
3. Las Vegas
Most distracted pedestrians: 32%.
Most walkable city: 26%.
2. Washington, D.C.
Most distracted pedestrians: 26%.
Most walkable city: 41%.
1. New York City
Most distracted pedestrians: 75%.
Most walkable city: 57%.
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“Distracted walking could be as dangerous as distracted driving,” said Robert Passmore, PCI’s assistant vice president personal lines policy. “Urban areas are now faced with the growing threat of pedestrians glued to smartphones, putting themselves as well as motorists in greater danger.”
State and federal policymakers are looking for better ways to prevent deaths and injuries linked to driver and pedestrian smartphone distractions. Recognizing that legislation may take time, PCI and auto insurers are urging officials and the public to consider the immediate benefits of education and awareness as to these expanding dangers.
“Multi-tasking while walking through downtown might seem like a time saver, but you’re putting yourself in danger. Pedestrians on smartphones take longer to cross the street, and even if they check for cars before crossing, all too often they turn their attention back to their phones while still in the middle of the intersection,” added Passmore.
Teenagers are especially vulnerable to accidents caused by smartphone distractions. Research by Safe Kids Worldwide, reveals that one in five teens admit they cross streets while distracted by a mobile device.
“As a parent, these statistics are terrifying, which is why we must work together to educate our loved ones to put the phone down and pay attention. It’s up to all of us to practice safe driving habits and to keep our eyes on the road,” said Passmore. That goes for pedestrians, too.