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“Distracted Walking” Is Becoming A Big Problem

“Distracted walking,” which encompasses listening to music, sending text messages, or being under the influence of drugs, has led to a recent spate in pedestrian fatalities.

“Distracted Walking” Is Becoming A Big Problem

“Distracted walking,” which encompasses listening to music, sending text messages, or being under the influence of drugs, has led to a recent spate in pedestrian fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2011, 69,000 pedestrians were injured and 4,432 were killed, up from 4,109 deaths in 2009. In comparison, distracted driving killed more than 3,000 people in 2011, according to the agency.

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The Department of Transportation said most of these pedestrian deaths happen in urban areas, at non-intersections, and at night. Alcohol is often a contributing factor to these fatalities. Of the pedestrians killed in traffic crashes, 37% of them had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit while 13% of the drivers involved in these accidents surpassed the limit.

The cities with the highest percentage of pedestrian deaths relative to total traffic fatalities are New York (51%), Los Angeles (42%), and Chicago (30%). The federal government is offering $2 million in grants to curb distracted walking for the top 22 cities with pedestrian fatalities higher than the national average.

[Image: Flickr user Ed Yourdon]

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About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal

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