The person engrossed in a text message or game on their cell phone; the person oblivious to anything but the music playing through their earphones on an MP3 player – these have become common sights in North Carolina as the use of mobile technology has grown. But while electronic devices can be a welcome distraction, they can also be a dangerous one.
Paying attention while crossing the street is a safety rule that is applicable for all age groups, but serves as a particularly important reminder at the start of the school year when the number of middle, high school and college pedestrians increases.
“The common use of electronic devices by students – and people of all ages - who are talking on cell phones, text messaging, or listening to music through earphones is distracting and extremely dangerous,” said Kumar Trivedi, interim director of NCDOT’s Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation.
Among 50 states, North Carolina displayed the fourth-largest increase in pedestrian fatalities over a four-year period ending in 2010, according to a report by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. The organization stated that increased distractions for pedestrians – namely, mobile devices – was likely a contributing factor.
A study by the University of Birmingham found that slow-crossing students with cell phones were up to 43 percent more likely to be hit by a vehicle while crossing the street; and children looked both ways 20 percent fewer times when crossing the street while using cell phones.
Students are encouraged to avoid talking or texting while walking. If you must talk or text, move to the side and out of the way of others. Pull out the earphones and put away the cell phones and music devices while crossing the street. Above all, pay attention to your surroundings.
NCDOT hopes these tips will help students enjoy a safe school year, and assist people of all ages in avoiding potential accident or injury.
For more bicycle and pedestrian safety rules, tips and materials, visit the website of NCDOT’s Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation.
Also, check out the Safe Routes to Schools program website to learn more about how NCDOT is working to make walking and bicycling to school an easier and safer option than ever before through projects that improve safety and reduce traffic and air pollution near schools.