They walk in front of cars, and into tree limbs and street signs, says Stateline. They fall off curbs and bridges into wet cement and creek beds. They are distracted walkers who, while calling or texting on mobile phones, have suffered cuts and bruises, sustained serious head injuries or even been killed. As cities and states promote walkable neighborhoods, some are levying fines on distracted walkers and lowering speed limits to make streets gentler for the inattentive.
Pedestrian injuries due to cell phone use are up 35 percent since 2010, according to federal emergency room data, and some researchers blame at least 10 percent of the 78,000 pedestrian injuries in the U.S. in 2012 on mobile device distraction. The federal Fatality Analysis Reporting system attributes about a half-dozen pedestrians deaths a year to “portable electronic devices,” including phones and music players. To reduce the number of injuries and deaths associated with distracted walking, Utah and New Jersey have experimented with fines for texting in dangerous walking situations. New York state has lowered speed limits in New York City, in part to make traffic less dangerous for distracted walkers.