Stay Safe While Crossing the Street, Unplug From Mobile Music

Back to school season has begun. In Worcester, and throughout the country, children have started walking to school in droves. These children - and all pedestrians for that matter - run the risk of being hit by distracted or reckless drivers.

In 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 4,378 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the Unites States. Another 69,000 people who were walking received injuries after being hit by a vehicle. Higher vehicle speeds increase the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle and the severity of the injuries. Pedestrians must always be vigilant while walking.

Listening to Music can be a Dangerous Distraction

According to a recent study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), listening to music can be an extremely dangerous activity when crossing a street. David Schwebel, director of the Youth Safety Laboratory at UAB was surprised by these results. In a news release he stated, "[L]istening to the radio while driving is not particularly dangerous. [But] we found that listening to music while crossing the street is dangerous, and I did not anticipate that."

As part of the study, a virtual environment lab was set up to simulate cars moving in multiple directions at 30 mph. More than 125 university students crossed the virtual two-lane road under a variety of conditions.

The students who crossed the street without distraction had the lowest risk of being hit, which was 6 percent. The risk increased to 12 percent while talking on a phone and 25 percent while texting. The highest risk of being hit was 33 percent for students who were listening to music.

Schwebel suspects that "we use our ears quite a bit more than we realize to safely cross the street." He also noted that "the big thing with music is that your ears are distracted. You are listening to the music and not listening to the traffic."

Staying Safe

Schwebel suggests that pedestrians put away their phones and unplug from mobile music devises when crossing the street. Several other ways you can stay safe include:

  • Exercise caution at intersections and be aware that drivers may fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians when turning onto another street.
  • If walking at night, carry a flashlight or wear reflective clothing, so that motorists can see you.
  • Whenever possible cross the street in a designated crosswalk and stay on sidewalks. If a sidewalk is not available, always walk facing traffic.

Pedestrians need to be vigilant when walking in areas with large traffic volume, especially if they are listening to music. If you are injured in an accident while walking contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of your rights and options.