WEDNESDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Almost one in three pedestrians use their cell phones or text while crossing busy streets, which could increase their chances of being hit by a car, a new study says.
Distracted walking, like distracted driving, is becoming an increasing problem and pedestrians need to be educated about the danger of doing so, the researchers added.
"Talking on your cell phone or texting while crossing the street is risky for you and drivers," said lead researcher Dr. Beth Ebel, director of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle.
"We need to start exercising judgment about when and where to use our electronic devices," she said.
"If the texting person in the car gets into a crash, they know it's their fault," she said. "Texters are not looking before they cross the street, they are not crossing with the light, they are walking more slowly and they are not looking at traffic. They are putting themselves at risk; they are putting the car that hits them at risk."
The first step is to educate people about the danger, Ebel said. Some cities have considered passing laws against using cell phones while crossing streets, she noted.
"As a pedestrian, you do have an obligation for your safety," she said.
The report was published Dec. 12 in the online edition of the journal Injury Prevention.
For the study, Ebel's team observed more than 1,000 people crossing 20 busy intersections in Seattle during the summer of 2012.
Specifically, the researchers looked for activities that could be distracting, such as talking on the phone, texting, listening to music, talking with others or coping with children or pets.
Almost 50 percent of the observations were done between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., and more than half the people seen were between the ages of 25 and 44, the rese
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