Heads up, phones down! The dangers of distracted walking and bicycling [video]

Youth, and teens in particular, often are unaware of their surroundings because their devices distract them and put them in danger

Spring has sprung, and it’s time to get out and get active after a long, cold winter. But first, here’s a little tip: Turn off the phone!

When it comes to walking and riding bikes, nearly 13 percent of middle-schoolers and 20 percent of high-schoolers are distracted by their phones or ear buds while outside.

Evie Pierce, a student at Kammerer Middle School in Louisville, is hoping to change that by getting the message out to “just turn it off!” She won a contest to create a public service message about distracted walking.

“I wanted to make it dramatic and realistic so that teens would pay attention,” Evie said.

“Youth, and teens in particular, often are unaware of their surroundings and in imminent danger because of distractions,” said Sharon Rengers with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness. “Teen pedestrian injuries, unlike any other age group, have gone up 35 percent over the past several years.

Stay safe, keep others safe
  • Wear light-colored or reflective clothing while outside.
  • Turn the phone off and pay attention. You will always lose against a car, even if you have the right-of-way.
  • Walk facing cars coming at you.
  • Cross the street at corners and obey traffic signals.
  • Adults: Turn off the phone or put it in “do not disturb” mode while driving. Be a role model for your kids.
Watch the ‘Just Turn It Off’ video

Last year the Safe Kids Louisville coalition, led by Norton Children’s Hospital, participated in a national study on distracted pedestrians. Four Jefferson County Public Schools participated in the study. In response, Norton Children’s challenged middle and high school students to create a short, entertaining video highlighting the importance of walking without distractions. The winning classroom and student received Amazon gift cards.

Watch Evie’s winning video.