Something more hazardous than a drunk driver is a driver texting behind the wheel. Texting while doing other activities, however, might actually bring more legislation into force in response to recent fatality rates. A woman named Liza Dye was hit by a train while immersed on her phone, friends allege. She was also reported feeling dizzy. The professional comedian struck fear into the hearts of many onlookers, which is not what she is used to doing. Road safety is drawing increasing awareness and pedestrians have also caught the eye of the law. For this reason, texting while walking might one day be illegal.
41 states, the District of Columbia (DC), Guam, and the United States (US) Virgin Islands, have banned text messaging for all drivers. Only 12 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands prohibit all usage of the cell phone while operating a vehicle. Currently, there is no law outlawing texting while walking, but the startling accident involving 25-year-old Dye, brings to light a new question yet to be tackled.
A study from last year found that texting while driving is actually more hazardous than drinking and driving. This outcome astounded many legislatures nationwide. The numbers continue to rise, though, and in 2011 Mothers Against Drunk Driving rendered a statistic that 226 child fatalities were caused by drunk driving. In 2013, officials from the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, claimed that about 3,000 teens die yearly nationwide from texting, and another 300,000 injuries are reported. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 2,500 young people die every year due to driving under the influence.
Texting while driving is a major problem, reportedly, for the young population. Nearly 9,000 teenagers between 15 and 18-years-old admit to texting while driving during the years 2010 and 2011. Researcher, Dr. Andrew Adesmen, firmly believes the laws are not effective. His studies find that the statistics from the states where texting on the road is illegal, did not vary significantly from their counterpart states.
The accident with Dye brings to the public another matter all together. If the distraction causes accidents in any place, might texting while walking also be made illegal? A study by Schabrun, Hoorn, Moocroft, Greenland, and Hodges discovered that texting while walking can cause impaired balance, or poor “gait performance.” They further elaborated that reading (not just texting) can also pose some safety risks for pedestrians near or crossing streets.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2010, “driver distraction,” was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal collisions. For this reason, the Federal Communications Commission reports working jointly with industry and safety organizations and different levels of governmen, to inform the public and spread awareness. While the numbers continue to rise, tougher-law proponents will fight for further governmental action. Currently, the laws only pertain to cell phone functions within a motor vehicle.
Facing the assumption that texting while walking is hazardous, Accident Analysis and Prevention (AAP) reported in 2010 that over 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms across the United States because of cell phone use while walking. Three years later the statistics have modestly dropped, however, over the past decade total injuries have doubled while texting and walking.
Dye is not the first case of a woman to fall victim to this type of accident. In 2012, a woman named Bonnie Miller was walking along a pier on Lake Michigan, while attempting to send a text. She was trying to correct a spelling error and fell into the lake by not paying attention to her surroundings. An officer, her husband, and a young bystander rushed to her aid, and she survived the embarrassment. As these reports continue to show up, people might one day see texting while walking made illegal.
By Lindsey Alexander