I see this tendency nearly every day in New York City. Every time one of my fellow morning commuters walks a little too close to the corner with their gaze to a glowing smartphone, I get nervous. Sometimes I even reach out an arm to protect them from oncoming traffic and they give me annoyed glances. Call it my premature mother’s instinct if you will, because teenagers are reportedly getting run over left and right.
TODAY reports on 25 percent increase in pedestrian injuries among older teenagers (aged 16 to 19) in “recent years.” Couple that with kids aged 14-19 compromising half of all childhood pedestrian injuries and I believe we definitely have a problem. Admittedly, SafeKids, a global non-profit organization which took a look at this data, doesn’t have information specifically citing cell phones as the problem. Kate Carr, president and CEO of SafeKids Worldwide, states that she is simply putting two and two together:
“In addition to the increase in pedestrian injuries we saw among older teenagers, we also examined numerous outside reports about how much mobile use has increased among teens, “ she says. “We know that the average number of texts per teen has risen dramatically. Couple that with drivers who are talking on the phone or texting, and you have distracted people on both sides of the equation. Our hypothesis is that the rise in injuries among these older teens is caused by their dramatic increase in their cell phone use.”
SafeKids also reports that these early fall months, September and October, are “among the deadliest months” for traveling kids. Because children are headed back to school, and it’s not cold enough to keep them off the streets, they’re more likely to be wandering in the face of traffic with their phones in hand.
And with the debut of the new iPhone 5, we certainly don’t need more distractions at dangerous intersections. So, I propose we raise kids who are just as adept at navigating the roads with their cell phones as they are at playing Angry Birds. Just a thought.