‘Moment of Silence’ Campaign Launched for Distracted Walking [AUDIO]
The pedestrian death rate among teens is on the rise, up 25 percent in the last five years.
Safe Kids Worldwide is attributing many of those deaths to distracted walking. The group recently conducted a study in which they observed 34,000 teens crossing the street in school zones. Discussion groups were also held with 2,400 teens.
"All you have to do is stand on any street corner where you see a lot of pedestrian traffic," said Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. "Whether it's kids or adults, you'll see a lot of people texting while they cross the street, listening to music or talking, oblivious to the traffic around them. That's giving us a great deal of concern."
According to the study, one in five high school students and one in eight middle schoolers was distracted by a mobile device. Of the distracted kids, 39 percent were texting, 39 percent were wearing headphones, 20 percent were talking on the phone and two percent were using a tablet or handheld game.
Ironically, in the discussion groups most kids said older or younger people were likely to get hit while walking. Only 22 percent said kids their own age are most likely to be struck.
"In general, they thought 'it's someone else, it's not me' and I think that's part of how people perceive risk. They think 'this isn't going to happen to me, it's going to happen to somebody else.'"
In the United States last year, more than 400 kids under the age of 19 were struck and killed by a car and thousands more were injured. So, what is a parent to do?
"We always teach our young kids to look left, right and left again when crossing the street. But, with mobile devices, it's now important for parents to talk to their kids about the use of that device and to explain to them that they have a responsibility to walk safely as well as drive safely," said Carr. "When they are walking down the street, they need to know that they should put that mobile device down and take those headphones out of their ears."
It's also important for parents to lead by example because children follow what their parents do. It's also important to pass the message on.
"If you are in an intersection and see someone distracted, don't be afraid to give them a simple reminder. People think when they're crossing in that crosswalk that they're safe in that space. Yet, if you have a distracted driver along with a distracted pedestrian that's a formula for disaster," said Carr.
Safe Kids Worldwide has launched a campaign entitled "Moment of Silence" which urges people to take a pledge to create a moment of silence when crossing the street.
"That conversation, that little sound bite of music, that short text or email that you're reading, it's simply not worth it," said Carr.
For more information on the campaign, visit the Safe Kids website.