UW study: distracted walking on the rise

SEATTLE -- Pedestrian deaths are increasing nationwide, and a new study shows why distracted walking may be to blame.

In cities across the country, pedestrians are walking while they talk or text on their phones, and that combination hasn't ended well for many people.

"Oh, they always have their heads down, everyone's always walking around like this, you know?" one local pedestrian said.

From barreling into bears to planting their face in a fountain, distracted walking has led to some precarious positions. Inattentive walking is bad enough on the sidewalk, but what about when those pedestrians head into the streets?

A new University of Washington study found a lot of pedestrians don't stop the talking and texting even when crossing the road. In the recently-released study, UW researchers found only one in four distracted pedestrians follow traffic signals and look both ways before crossing.

"Yeah, I'll have my phone and I'll be texting and walking and I'll look up and be like, oh my god," said Christine White.

The study also found that about 30 percent of pedestrians listened to music, texted or talked while crossing the street. Researches say texting pedestrians were four times more likely to cross against a signal or not look both ways for cars.

Those who listen to music while they walk tend to walk faster, but often don't look for oncoming cars, according to the study.

Researches say to be safe, walkers should put their phones away. They also ask parents to teach their kids when it's safe to use a smart phone and when it's not.
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