Don’t text while you drive (or walk, run, skate, or … unicycle?)

PEMCO employs bright, talented college interns each summer, and Laura Pflug is one of them. Laura works in our Spokane office while on break from Gonzaga University. We asked Laura to write a guest post in our Teen Driver blog because of her fresh perspective that of someone who was a teen not long ago.

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by LAURA PFLUG

Most parents know (or should know) to tell their kids: don’t text and drive. In the past few years, new legislation has been passed to restrict texting or talking on the phone while driving. But teen drivers and pedestrians also should look out for people who are distracted while walking, bicycling, etc.

Research shows that 1,506 people were treated in emergency rooms after accidents involving distracted movement in 2010. So, while many teens might take precautions against distracted drivers, it’s also important to be cautious of distracted pedestrians.

By the beginning of the second semester of my sophomore year at Gonzaga University, four students and one school employee had been involved in separate collisions with motor vehicles since the beginning of that school year. I remember our president sending an email to all students informing us of the dangers of distracted movement – something I hadn’t thought about until then.

After considering it more, I began to notice distracted movement everywhere. Next time you’re walking down the street, take a second and observe those around you and see how many people are moving while distracted (if anything, it’s a good excuse to people-watch).  Next, take a look at the hazards around them that make their situations potentially dangerous.

A study by Jack Nasar, professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State University, found that people under 31 were most likely to be hurt from distracted movement. Of that age group, 16- to 20-year-olds sustained the second highest amount of injuries.

What’s the good news? Harm can be prevented. As a teen driver or pedestrian, there are ways to watch out for risks involving distracted movement.

Here are five prevention tips to practice as a parent, a teen, or someone in between:

  • Make eye contact. Whether you’re a driver or a pedestrian, never assume that someone sees you. If you’re having trouble establishing eye contact, wave your arm to draw attention to yourself.
     
  • Be alert. Pretty self-explanatory. Don’t text, listen to music, talk on the phone, etc., while crossing the street or driving.
     
  • Walk, don’t ride, through crosswalks. Dismount from your longboard, skateboard, bicycle, etc., to decrease your speed and make it more likely a driver will notice you and react.
     
  • Look both ways. Such a cliché, but so true. Whether you’re a driver or a pedestrian, look both ways before entering an intersection.
     
  • Watch out for others. When you’re being alert, you might notice someone who is distracted and putting themselves in danger. When appropriate, say or do something to change their behavior. You just might save them from a collision.

Is distracted movement something you’ve encountered before? Feel free to increase awareness by leaving a comment and sharing stories or tips below!

by  Jon Osterberg

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 1  Comments

Jeff Mitchell

07/31/2013 07:10 AM

Very well written article with lots of interesting information and tips for us all!

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