People like to talk on their cellphones while they are walking or listen to music. Some even play a video game or text message while strolling.
Many people are prone to multi-task in this manner, but it can be dangerous.
There is a term for it distracted walking and it has become a problem.
Injuries to distracted walkers treated in emergency rooms have increased more than fourfold in the past seven years, the Associated Press reported. More pedestrians have been killed and injured in traffic accidents, although the figures do not reveal if inattentive walking was a factor.
We are where we were with cellphone use in cars 10 years or so ago. We knew it was a problem, but we didnt have the data, said Jonathan Akins of the Governors Highway Safety Association.
What should be done? States and municipalities are examining the problem and discussing it, but there is no consensus.
Delaware has tried to educate pedestrians on busy streets to Look up. Drivers arent always looking out for you.
Philadelphia, Pa., is working on a safety campaign that will warn pedestrians who are gazing at their electronic devices instead of where they are headed. One of the messages will certainly be pick your head up I want to say nitwit, but I probably shouldnt call them names, said Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and public utilities.
The Utah Transit Authority passed an ordinance forbidding pedestrians from using cellphones, headphones or other electronic gizmos while crossing the tracks of its light rail system in Salt Lake City. The fine was supposed to be $50, but the states legislature balked at making it a state law, AP reported.
Distracted walking bills in the New York State Legislature, as well as legislative bodies in Arkansas and Illinois, have failed so far.
But the behavior of many pedestrians remains a problem.