Heads Up: Distracted Walking Safety

Smartphones have created thousands of distracted walkers. If you have employees on the road — either in company cars or driving on company business — make sure they’re trained to be on the lookout.

Illustration by Tim Lahan


Smartphones have captured the attention of millions of people. From addictive games we can’t put down, to apps bombarding us with breaking news, to the steady stream of texts with family and coworkers, everyone seems to be looking at their hands—not at the world around them.

While popular, this may lead to unintended consequences as distracted pedestrians pose safety risks to themselves and nearby drivers.

Now more than ever, businesses that have employees on the road, either in company cars or driving on company business, should take steps to remind drivers to be alert for distracted walkers.

Distracted walking led to over 11,000 injuries in the past decade according to data from a University of Maryland study published in the National Safety Council (NSC) Injury Facts in 2015. On average in 2013, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes according to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Businesses should look at their fleet safety programs and make sure that they address the issue of pedestrian safety in their practices and procedures. They should remind drivers to honor the speed limits, pay attention to traffic signals and defer to pedestrians who are approaching or have entered crosswalks. Drivers should take extra caution around pedestrians in case they are not paying attention to traffic.

Photo by Deborah Kolb / Blend


They should remind drivers to honor the speed limits, pay attention to traffic signals and defer to pedestrians who are approaching or have entered crosswalks.

It’s also a good time for businesses to alert drivers about the risks of distracted driving. In 2014, 3,179 pedestrians were killed in distracted driving crashes and another 431,000 were injured according to distraction.gov. Remind drivers about the dangers of using a smartphone while driving – whether playing games, texting or talking on the phone – as well as any activity that takes their attention off the road.

Slow down, be patient and pay attention. It’s common sense, but we all need a little reminder from time to time.

Jenn Guerrini, MS, CSP, CDS, CSS, ASP, is an Executive Commercial Auto Specialist with Chubb Risk Engineering Services.

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