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Eyes Up: Distracted Walking Poses Danger For Wyoming Students

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With school headed back into session, officials are warning that in addition to watching excited students and school buses, drivers should also be on the watch for pedestrians distracted by electronic devices.

According to the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the number of 12- to 19-year-old pedestrians killed has increased 13 percent since 2013. During that same time frame, the number of high-school-aged students who were walking distracted increased by 35 percent : 20 percent in 2013 versus 27 percent in 2016.

A Safe Kids Worldwide 2016 study showed that while those ages 15-19 made up only 26 percent of all children 0-19, they made up half of pedestrian fatalities. In fact, five teen pedestrians are being killed each week in the United States.

The fact that distracted walking is on the rise could be a contributing factor. This from a WYDOT press release, regarding the Safe Kids study:

“The study showed that one in four high-schoolers were distracted by texting, talking on the phone or listening to music with headphones while crossing the road near their school.Girls were more likely to be distracted by texting or talking (58 percent), while boys were more likely to be distracted by listening to music with headphones (51 percent).

The study showed that distracted walking, along with other factors, led to only 20 percent of students crossing the street safely. Eighty percent of students exhibited unsafe behavior including crossing against the lights, not looking before crossing and not crossing at a designated crossing.”

The study also revealed that nearly one in three drivers engaged in unsafe behavior while dropping off and picking up their student. This included double-parking, stopping in the middle of the crosswalk, and parking across the street from the drop-off lane or school. One in ten of those drivers were observed using a mobile device after they dropped off their student.

The National Safety Council offers these safety tips for pedestrians:

  • Never walk while texting or talking on the phone
  • If texting, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk
  • Never cross the street while using an electronic device
  • Do not walk with headphones on
  • Be aware of the surroundings
  • Always walk on the sidewalk if one is available; if a child must walk on the street, he or she should face oncoming traffic
  • Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street
  • Cross only at crosswalks

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