Distracted driving is a common topic that most insurance companies talk about and that most people have heard or know something about. In case you don’t, distracted driving is any situation that takes your attention away from driving. This can be anything from talking or texting on your cell phone, sending emails, eating or drinking, grooming activities such as doing your makeup or hair, adjusting your GPS, or even changing the radio station. However, one topic that tends to not be talked about as much is distracted pedestrians.

Distracted pedestrians can be as dangerous as distracted driving. According to a study reported by USA Today, distracted pedestrian deaths totaled nearly 6,000 in 2017. So what exactly is a distracted pedestrian? Distracted pedestrians are those who are not paying attention to their surroundings while walking near or crossing roads. They tend to have their head down looking at their phones, listening to their headphones, or simply talking while walking. These situations can lead to a bunch of different risks. The obvious risk of distracted pedestrians is being hit by a car. However, there are other risks involved for both the pedestrian or the drivers around them. The risks associated with the pedestrian include but are not limited to injuring someone else, trips, sprains, fractures, cuts, concussions, and much more. The risks associated with the drivers include crashes, hitting pedestrians, damage to their vehicles, or injury to themselves as they try to avoid hitting a distracted pedestrian.

Distracted pedestrians are dangerous in general but they become even more dangerous in school zones and near school buses. According to a 2015 study done by Safe Kids Worldwide, children ages 0-19 make up 26% of the population but account for 50% of the recorded pedestrian deaths. In addition to this, 1 in 4 highschoolers and 1 in 6 middle schoolers will be a distracted pedestrian. School zones and near school buses can be dangerous because of distracted pedestrians, mostly students, on their way to or from the school or bus that simply aren’t paying attention and distracted drivers who are preoccupied when picking up or dropping off their child from school or the bus.

How do communities and parents protect these students? Communities can make sure that crosswalks are properly marked and set and enforce school zone speed limits. They can also enforce laws regarding school buses and other drivers. The last thing communities can do is educate the community about distracted pedestrians and school zone/bus safety. Parents can educate their students about the dangers of walking distracted and how important it is to be aware of your surroundings. They can also use extra caution when driving in school zones and near school buses.

With the school year getting ready to start, be sure to pay attention to your surroundings and eliminate all distractions when walking or driving in or near school zones and near school buses. Educate those around you about these dangers and work with your community to keep students and everyone else safe.