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Program targets distracted walking among kids

October 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
We've all heard of distracted driving. But what about distracted walking?

Nadia Stanich admitted that she has tripped once while she was texting. Like any other 12-year-old, Stanich feels compelled to return a text once she gets. She also plays video games while walking, and she's often in her own world.

"I don't really notice everything else. I'm just looking at my phone," she said.

A new report being presented to the American Academy of Pediatrics details how technology and traffic just don't mix.

Researchers looked at over 1,000 pediatric patients who got hit by a car. While mid-block crossing and darting across the street are to blame for many of the accidents, researchers found teenagers use smartphones twice as much as adult patients hit by a car.

"It's dangerous. Thousands of kids across America are killed every year by being struck by cars. We see hundreds here in the state of California, and we definitely see our fair share at Children's Hospital Los Angeles," said Dr. Jeffrey Upperman, director of pediatric trauma at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

Upperman says the answer to the growing smartphone problem is to teach kids street smarts. LA Street Smarts is a funded program that educates elementary school students about the fundamentals of walking in traffic.

The next step would be to teach teens to be street smart trainers because knowing the basics of pedestrian safety will save lives, Upperman said.

Stanich says she is going to think twice now before she texts.

"I'm probably going to wait until I get somewhere where there's not cars around, then text them back," she said.


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