CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Texting while driving is generally known to be dangerous; federal statistics indicate 3,328 people were killed and around 421,000 people were injured in 2012 in accidents involving distracted drivers. Forty-four states, including West Virginia, ban texting while driving, and 14 states, including West Virginia, ban all handheld use of electronic devices while driving.
However, a new report puts the spotlight on distracted walkers: pedestrians engrossed in their phones while walking on city sidewalks and crossing busy streets. The Pew Charitable Trusts found that pedestrian injuries due to cellphone use are up 35 percent since 2010, according to federal emergency room data. The organization also reported that some researchers blame at least 10 percent of the 78,000 pedestrian injuries in the U.S. in 2012 on mobile device distraction.
Pedestrians can be seen walking, heads down and phone in hand, on any given day along Capitol Street. Bradley Schmaozer, 35, of Charleston, said he’s often one of those people because his lunch hour is one of the only opportunities he gets to check social media, news and messages on his phone.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone walk into anything or anybody but I’ve seen people walk into the street on their phone before, and I’m guilty of it myself,” Schmaozer said. “I try not to do it if at all possible. We’re so reliant on our phones, I think, for information, that I think people start to feel uncomfortable when they’re disconnected. I think there’s a tendency to always be on it so you make sure you don’t miss anything…