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June 04, 2021

Teens and Texting: Watch Out For That Car!

It happened on the way to school this morning. I turned onto a side street and a girl, about 12 years old, stepped off the sidewalk and right in front of my car — without looking.

Thank goodness I was able to stop in time.

No big surprise: She was busy texting. Looking down at her iPhone. Completely oblivious to the fact that she was walking across a busy street.

Of course, you and I don't need a study to tell us this is a problem. But talk about a confirmation: A recent study looked at how cell-phone use distracts preteens while crossing the street. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham worked with children ages 10 and 11.

Distraction was created by cell-phone conversations with a research assistant. When distracted, the kids were less attentive to traffic, they left less time between themselves and the next oncoming vehicle and they were involved in more collisions and near misses. (Fortunately, this was all done in a virtual traffic setting!)

While cell phones can offer convenience and safety when used wisely, the study authors stress that pedestrians — especially children, who are likely to be more distracted than adults — should limit cell-phone use while crossing the street.

Seems like it might be time for yet another reminder to our kids about pedestrian safety. (Just don't call or text them on their cell phones to remind them.)


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