In less than 10 years, injuries involving distracted pedestrians on cell phones has more than doubled

WASHINGTON – The National Safety Council (NSC) recently conducted a study in 2016 that found there are more distracted walkers today than ever before. The study shows that 78 percent of adults believe this is a serious problem.

Four out of ten Americans surveyed say they have personally witnessed a distracted walking incident, while one out of four say they have been in an incident themselves. According to a 2013 study that appeared in the Accident Injury and Prevention Journal, the number more than doubled between 2004 and 2010 of injuries that required emergency hospital visits by distracted pedestrians on their cell phones.

While many adults believe this is a serious problem, 74 percent of them say the distracted walkers are usually “other people,” while only 29 percent of them admit to them being distracted themselves. According to those surveyed, some of the biggest reasons for distracted pedestrians include talking on the phone, engaging in conversation, listening to music, using a smartphone and “zoning out.” However, with the exception of engaging in conversation, only half of those surveyed admit to being distracted by those specific activities themselves.

“Today, the dangers of the ‘digital dead walker’ are growing with more and more pedestrians falling down stars, tripping over curbs, bumping into other walkers, or stepping into traffic,” said Reed Fitzgerald, an orthopedic surgeon and NSC spokesperson.

When asked why Americans walk distracted, more than half of the respondents, 48 percent, say “they just don’t think about it.” Other reasons include the inability to multitask while walking and the desire to be productive with their time.

Millennials are the most likely age group that engage in common distracted walking behaviors including, texting, listening to music and talking on the phone. While they have higher rates of distracted walking incidents than other age group, they are the least likely to be injured. In contrast, women 55 and older are the most likely age group to suffer a serious injury.

According to Fitzgerald, distracted walking has caused “a rising number of injuries – from scrapes and bruises to sprains and fractures.”

According to the study, 46 percent of those surveyed believe it’s “embarrassing in a silly way” and “dangerous,” while 31 percent say, “it’s something I’m likely to do” and 22 percent say distracted walking is “funny.” The perception of distracted walking also changes by generation. Seventy percent of Millennials see it as a serious problem, while 81 percent of those 35 and older.

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About the National Safety Council

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council,, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities. To become an instructor or an authorized training center, please contact NSC through its international web service center or email


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