Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New study on "Distracted Walking" overreaches in its conclusions

An interesting and important new study from Ohio State demonstrates the risk of cell phone use of walking.

The study finds that over 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 due to injuries related to use of a cell phone while walking.  Of particular interest is the concentration of "distracted walking" injuries among the population age 16 to 25.

Unfortunately, the author's conclusion that "the best way to reverse these numbers is to start changing norms for cell phone use in our society" is an overreach, and is not backed up by facts.

Evidence shows that changing driver behavior and road speed, and increasing pedestrian/cycle use, is the only way to create significant reductions in motor vehicle injury.  "Vulnerable user" laws that penalize drivers for careless driving (e.g., running over 14-year old pedestrians even if they are using a cell phone, or chasing a ball) may also help reset behaviors and improve safety, as shown by examples from Western Europe.

Furthermore, we should consider that we have an elderly population that will double over the next 15 years. This population is where injuries are most concentrated. The population over 65 comprises 12% of the population, 22% of the pedestrian fatalities.  We can't "reverse those numbers" by reversing the aging process.

The rate of injury -- and the sense of safety and comfort that directly relates to the economic vibrancy of our cities and towns -- won't improve until risk is physically designed out of the system.  This is the approach that most cities  around the world are taking, recognizing that demographics, behavior, and technology changes with each generation.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Another Child Hit by Driver at Newhallville Street Intersection

Reporting today from the New Haven Independent:

A car struck a bicycle at the corner of Winchester Avenue and Highland Street Thursday afternoon and injured a young cyclist, the second such accident in a year.

Another driver hit a child riding on a bike at the same intersection last year, according to Tammy Chapman, a neighborhood organizer who lives two doors away from that intersection.