What to do About Protecting Distracted Pedestrians

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Government officials and safety experts say distracted walking is a growing problem.

On city streets, in suburban parking lots and in shopping centers, there are usually people strolling while talking on a phone, texting with their heads down, listening to music, or playing a video game.

Reports of injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years and are almost certainly underreported.

There has been a spike in pedestrians killed and injured in traffic accidents, but there is no reliable data on how many were distracted by electronics.

Psychological studies that show most people can't focus on two things at once. Rather, their attention shifts rapidly back and forth and performance suffers.

Lawmakers have been reluctant to consider legislation on the issue though there are some local ordinances.

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