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Protect Your Smart Phone

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As college students across the country arrive on campus for the fall semester, they may regard their smartphones as their most indispensable personal items. For some, though, the devices may also be dangerous distractions.

In a 2018 study published by the National Institutes of Health, a University of Alabama psychology professor and fellow researchers reported that more than a third of pedestrians observed on urban college campuses were crossing the street while distracted, "almost always by handheld mobile devices."

Using a virtual reality pedestrian environment, the researchers found that "college students who were distracted by texting or listening to music were more likely to be hit by a car while crossing the street than their undistracted peers."

The behavior was seen as "not only a significant issue nationally, but may either be increasing in frequency and/or is more common in pedestrian settings dominated by young adults like college campuses." (Read the full abstract.)

Such safety concerns have prompted local lawmakers to pass or consider their own distracted-walking laws in several states, including Connecticut, Hawaii and New York.

The National Safety Council offers safety tips to avoid the dangers of distracted walking:

  • Never walk while texting or talking on your phone.
  • If texting, step out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk
  • Never cross the street while using an electronic device
  • Do not walk with headphones in your ears
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Always walk on the sidewalk if one is available. If you must walk on the street, face oncoming traffic
  • Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street
  • Cross only at crosswalks