Cell phone use while walking: The safety issue

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According to both personal safety experts and government agency officials, distracted walking is a significant and growing problem in this nation.  It is not hard to reason out why; it is actually difficult now to find any public space where there are not individuals using their cell phones as they walk.  This would not be a problem if cell phones were still used mainly for their original purpose: voice calls.  The truth, however, is that the average cell phone user is now spending much more time texting, using apps, and accessing the internet than talking out loud.  These uses, of course, require users to look at the screen, and this is why their walking patterns have become distracted.

A young man recently became so distracted while using his cell phone on a train platform that he actually tumbled onto the tracks.  Thankfully, he managed to scramble out before a train approached.  This is far from the only danger-inducing incident involving cell phone use, however.  According to official statistics, emergency room visits that can be traced to distracted walking have increased fourfold in less than a decade, and there is no sign of them slowing in the near future.

It remains to be seen how states and localities will respond to the growing crisis.  It is highly doubtful whether the public would accept bans on texting and walking in the same spirit they accepted such bans on texting and driving.  There is a feeling that individuals should be allowed to use their phones as they stroll along, even if it puts them in danger.

Delaware is hoping to encourage safer behavior with a public awareness campaign aimed at pedestrians.