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Distracted Walking Can Be As Dangerous As Distracted Driving

We hear a lot about the dangers of distracted driving -- primarily when it involves people who talk on the phone or text while behind the wheel. Here in Nevada, the use of handheld phones, including texting, while driving is against the law.

However, too often, pedestrians aren't as alert to their surroundings as they should be because they're focused on their phones or other electronic devices as well. Now, one state lawmaker in New Jersey has introduced legislation that would mandate a $50 fine for pedestrians who are caught texting or using a handheld phone while crossing the street. Half of the proceeds from those fines would be used to fund safety education.

Whether the bill goes anywhere or not, it has ignited a conversation about the dangers of being on your cellphone while walking. One safety program includes the warning "Heads up, phones down" for pedestrians.

One emergency medicine physician calls cellphones "an intoxicant" that is "worse than alcohol or drugs for drivers and pedestrians." That, she says, is because it takes their focus off of their surroundings.

While the number of pedestrian injuries and deaths in New Jersey is twice the national average, the problem is not limited to that state. Even when pedestrians are being careful, particularly at crosswalks, they can't ensure that drivers in the area are doing the same. That's why it's essential to be aware of any drivers nearby and to make sure that they see you. Just as drivers need to keep their eyes on the road and their surroundings, so do pedestrians.

Source: NJ.com, "OMG, lawmaker wants to ticket pedestrians who walk and text," Larry Higgs, March 22, 2016

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