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Does your teen text or listen to music while walking?

Now that school is out for the summer, your teenage child may be out walking around the community more often than he or she did during the school year. Teenagers are generally able to make safe decisions when walking. Unlike some younger children, teens can often tell when it is safe to cross the street, can navigate on their own and can confidently read traffic signs and signals. However, they may be susceptible to other unsafe practices.

Walking distractions contribute to numerous pedestrian traffic collisions every year, and one out of four high school students crosses the street while distracted. Although many activities can be distracting, some popular distractions among teenage pedestrians include cellphones and music.

Why are cellphones and music dangerous to pedestrians?

Anything that takes your teen’s attention away from his or her surroundings could put your teen at risk of injury. Looking down at a phone to text, browsing the web or playing a game, can prevent a pedestrian from seeing a potential hazard, like a car turning into his or her path or the pothole up ahead. Listening to music can prevent a pedestrian from hearing potential hazards, like a car or bicycle approaching from behind.

Being focused and alert when walking can help your teen identify potential hazards sooner and react appropriately. Consider reminding your teen to put away the cellphone and headphones when walking, so your teen can see and hear traffic and other surroundings.

Consider also reminding your teen to:

  • Walk on sidewalks and cross at crosswalks when possible
  • Try to anticipate what nearby drivers may do
  • Make eye contact with each driver before crossing the street

Walking can be a great way for your teen to get exercise and stay connected with friends throughout the summer. Although teenage pedestrians can make safer decisions than younger children can, they may still benefit from periodic safety reminders.

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