Pedestrian Deaths Are At a 30 Year High and Smartphones Could Very Well Be to Blame

Do you ever walk from your favorite weekday lunch spot back to your office, navigating treacherous crosswalks and streets filled with speedy, mid-day drivers? We all do, but do you do it while scrolling through Instagram? Sure, all pedestrians are guilty of making this misstep from time-to-time, but if you make a habit of walking while looking down at your smartphone, you could be putting your life in serious danger.

Now, we know we are probably sounding like your mom right now (Put that smartphone away before you get run over by a car!”), but your mom is totally right…

In fact, some recently-released statistics are there to back her up. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, more than 6,200 pedestrians were killed walking U.S. roads in 2018, a scary figure which is even scarier when you consider that the deaths are at a 30-year high!

So, what’s causing this uptick in pedestrian mortalities? You guessed it–it’s that ultra-addictive smartphone that’s likely laying within two inches of your person as you read this. While the report doesn’t call out devices by name, “unsafe behavior” on the part of both pedestrians and drivers is one of the key factors.

Commenting on the findings, report authors Richard Retting says, “Crossing the street should not be a death sentence. We have a range of proven infrastructure, engineering, and behavioral strategies that we know can reduce pedestrian deaths.

“Critical improvements to road and vehicle design are being made, but take significant time and resources to implement. It is also important to conduct law enforcement and safety education campaigns now to ensure drivers and pedestrians can safely coexist.”

Speaking to Retting’s last point, we’re happy to report that law enforcement is already taking notice of the dangerous phenomenon.

TODAY went on a series of ride-alongs with Commander Kenneth Campbell of the Houston Police Department to see what today’s law enforcement is doing and to also document just how distracted pedestrians really are these days. In the video, dozens of walking-and-texting offenders are caught on tape as they maneuver busy city streets, practically “blind.”

What’s more incredible is that, when questioned about their unwillingness to put their phones away when walking, these pedestrians don’t come back with defensive responses. They know that what they are doing is dangerous, but it seems that they would rather risk their lives than put their phones down.

Of course, pedestrians aren’t the only ones who are distracted by their smartphones–drivers, are too. As a matter of fact, the National Safety Council has found that a whopping 1.6 million accidents caused in America are attributed to cell phone use behind-the-wheel. Even worse, texting while driving is SIX TIMES more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk. Unbelievable!

To see TODAY’s report on this disturbing trend, be sure to watch the video below. You won’t believe what some of the offenders say when they get busted!

We can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this hot-button walking and texting issue. Do you ever walk-and-text? If so, have you had any close calls with cars? Do you think that we will ever be able to solve this issue?