Annual Distracted Texting Injuries Quadruple in Seven Years; Distracted Driver Convicted of Homicide

Distracted driving and walking videos are often viewed as humorous slapstick. Their popularity online as entertainment may indicate we take the issue too lightly.

“The videos are funny, but the problem is serious,” reported ABC News reporter Aaron Harris (see video Texting While Walking, below).

Teen Driver Convicted of Homicide Due to Texting

“Distracted drivers will be treated as criminals,” warns the ABC News narrator in our first video, Texting Teen Driver Convicted of Homicide. “A landmark ruling, today . . . convicted a distracted driver with vehicular manslaughter. His crime was blamed on texting, while driving.”

 

A distracted driver teenager is convicted of vehicular manslaughter after crash. Here, he apologizes to the victim's family.
A distracted driver teenager is convicted of vehicular manslaughter after crash. Here, he apologizes to the victim’s family.

 

“Two families were tearful, when the verdict was read,” reported journalist Ani Roback on the segment from ABCWorldNews. Although the conviction was for manslaughter, the driver received only two and a half years behind bars. The case promises major changes in the way police and prosecutors handle distracted driving cases involving death. The sentence will be of small comfort to the family of the victim, 55-year-old Daniel Bally.

At sentencing, the convicted teen appears repentant and says: “I made a mistake and if I could take that back, I would take that back.”

 

 

The Human Toll

The victims of this crime include police officers, at high risk during traffic stops on the side of the road. The FBI reports: “Preliminary data for 2009 from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund showed that for the twelfth year in a row, more officers were killed in the line of duty in traffic incidents than from any other cause of death, including shootings.” [2]

 

Dramatic dash cam footage from police car shows quick-thinking police officer running out of the way of an oncoming car driven off the road by a distracted driver. The police officer barely escaped, although his car was totalled.
Dramatic dash cam footage from police car shows quick-thinking police officer running out of the way of an oncoming car driven off the road by a distracted driver. The police officer barely escaped, although his car was totalled.

 

In our second video, Distracted Drive Nearly Kills Cop, the danger is glaringly highlighted. This spectacular, and very scary, video, caught on police dash cam, is only one of dozens of these roadside incidents caused by distracted drivers each year.

“Police officers make traffic stops each and every day,” reports Lisa Monaghan, of News9. “But it only takes one inattentive driver to put their lives in danger.”

In the footage, we see the police officer walking back to his car after telling a motorist, “Fasten your seatbelt, okay?” He looks momentarily shocked, and literally dives out of the path of a distracted driver. Although the camera cuts out as the car is totaled, you can still hear the mayhem, the crunching of metal, the squealing of tires.

 

The remains of the police officer's car after a distracted driver crashes into both the patrol car and another car. The police officer escaped only because he was out of the car and fast on his feet.
The remains of the police officer’s car after a distracted driver crashes into both the patrol car and another car. The police officer escaped only because he was out of the car and fast on his feet.

 

In the aftermath, luckily none of the three people involved was seriously injured, although the police car was totaled, as were the other cars. “The distracted driver, and the person who had been pulled over, both received minor injuries,” reported Lisa Monaghan. The distracted driver was charged.

In the video, the chief of police says, “Most of the accidents that we investigate are either because people were on their phone or texting, and they’re not paying attention.”

View this spectacular Caught On footage of a dangerous distracted driver:

 

 

Distracted Walking, a Growing Danger

Distracted driving kills. Distracted walking can be just as deadly. According to Ohio State University, distracted walking injuries requiring emergency room visits soared from 256 in 2005 to 1506 in 2010. [1]

 

Commuters frequently walk off of subway platforms while texting.
Commuters frequently walk off of subway platforms while texting. Here, we see a victim tumble on to the tracks.

 

Not paying attention while walking is just as dangerous as driving while texting, although the potential for harm is limited to one person in most cases. People literally walk into open manholes, plunge into swimming pools, cross roads without looking, step off bridges to plunge to rocks below, and fall off train platforms in front of subways. We’ve collected some shocking videos, to illustrate this growing danger—distracted walking.

Reported Injuries Quadrupled in Last Seven Years

“If current trends continue, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of injuries to pedestrians caused by cell phones doubles again between 2010 and 2015,” said Jack Nasar [3] co-author of the study and professor of city and regional planning at The Ohio State University. [4]

 

Caught-On-Injuries-quadruple-from-distracted-texting-Blogertize

 

During the same period, when pedestrian accidents have dropped—from 97,000 to 41,000—distracted walking accidents reported nearly doubled.[1] This doesn’t include the majority of incidents that go unreported.

Distracted Walker Falls Into Train Tracks:

 

 

In our first distracted walking video, the ABC World News anchor reported, “More and more people are injured by something we all do. Talking on the phone, getting an email, or texting. Emergency rooms are seeing four times as many injured by walking while distracted.”

The video clip shows a man walking along the edge of a subway platform. “Watch as this man, so consumed by his cellphone conversation, ends up head over heels on the train tracks,” reports the journalist Lindsay Maher, as we see frightening footage of the man’s foot slipping off the edge, landing literally on his head. The news coverage continues with other clips of cellphone-consumed pedestrians walking off train platforms, walking into walls and a dramatic clip of a woman plunging twenty feet into an open sink hole.

“More than 1,150 were treated in E.R. in the last year alone,” says the journalist.

 

Here, a distracted pedestrian tumbles twenty feet to the bottom of a sink hole.  She had been texting while walking and didn't notice the sign or hole.
Here, a distracted pedestrian tumbles twenty feet to the bottom of a sink hole. She had been texting while walking and didn’t notice the sign or hole.

 

A Town Sets Fines for Distracted Walkers

A separate ABC News report calls distracted walking “an epidemic”—an epidemic so serious that “one town has decided to impose fines for people who walk into the streets head down.”

Several states have enacted “distracted driving bills” although the majority do not yet have laws on the books.

Texting While Walking Accidents:

 

On the video we see a woman walk into a water fountain head-first and a man nearly walk right into a black bear on the loose. The video also highlights the story of Bonnie Miller, who walked off a pier and had to be rescued by the coastguard.

Education and new laws may help stem the rising numbers of injuries from distracted drivers and walkers, although the rate of distracted-driver and walker related accidents is expected to climb, according to the Ohio State University.

NOTES

[1] The Ohio State University: Research and Innovation Communications.

[2] FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/march_2011/bulletin-report

[3] About Jack Nasar

[4] The Ohio State University: City and Regional Planning

 

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