Baby steps, people. Left step, right step. One foot follows the other, hands swinging forward and back, chin up and eyes out. If, like me, you’ve been ambulatory for all of the life that you can actually remember, this is a familiar pattern to you. And you probably learned the scientific and difficult art of walking around the time you learned to communicate with monosyllabic tantrums of the throat. Walking: it’s what we do! But, apparently, some of us don’t even do that well anymore, says a new study published by researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.
Trauma surgeons and lab coats at NYU Langone say that Distracted Walking is on the rise, and—to no one’s surprise—is preventable. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 324 people on average are treated for pedestrian injuries related to motor vehicles each day. That’s a troubling statistic for many reasons, but mostly for what it means to children and senior citizens: they’re either distracted, under-supervised, or a combination of the two.
In the report, the surgeons noted that injuries children sustain are mostly minor, like cuts and scrapes, and that they are discharged from the hospital sooner than senior citizens whose injuries were more severe, such as multiple and bilateral fractures.
“We saw that a high number of these patients had crossed in the middle of the block or crossed against the signal, particularly younger children under age six,” said Dr. Nina E. Glass, lead author of the study. “All of them were supervised by guardians, but still, 44 percent [of the patients in the study] darted into the street.”
The report also shows that 13-percent of the study’s population was under the age of 18, and about 20 percent of this group was sending text messages, listening to music, or were otherwise distracted by a mobile device at the time of injury. Roughly 10 percent of adults were similarly distracted. In total, this equates to about 1-in-3 pedestrians being distracted.
Clearly, we’ve got to do something about Distracted Walking, especially since some of these distracted walkers may soon be distracted drivers. But short of taking phones away from America’s pre-teens–good luck with that–what do we do to address this rising epidemic?
“In pediatric medicine as a whole, prevention is important, whether talking about sunscreen or getting vaccines,” Dr. Glass explained. “Emphasizing safety tips, such as not texting while walking in city traffic, needs to be worked into preventive health care measures,” she concluded.
Yes, let’s talk about it in the same way our parents and adult peers talk about sex education and drugs. With smart phones and data plans becoming more affordable, we’re not likely to unplug anytime soon. The solution to us is simple—PAY ATTENTION, STUPID!
Source: American College of Surgeons, CDC