Distracted pedestrians pose safety hazard to Grand Forks drivers

Traffic stops along University Avenue on the UND campus as pedestrians, some on cellphones, cross the busy street Thursday. Photo credit: Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Click here to view local and national numbers on distracted middle school and high school students. Graphic credit: Grand Forks Herald.

More than 3,800 high school students in Grand Forks were observed crossing the street for a few days last spring and fall.

About 267 of them crossed the street distracted. Their noses were buried in a text conversation on their phones or headphones were plugged into their ears.

In some situations, it was a combination of both, according to Carma Hanson, coordinator of Safe Kids Grand Forks who was recording her observations for a national study.

“What we found was very alarming,” she said, noting the grade-school fundamental of looking before crossing a street wasn’t being used. “It looked like it didn’t even enter their minds.”

Things don’t seem to get better as people age.

While he doesn’t have data, UND Police Chief Eric Plummer knows distracted pedestrians are a problem on campus as well.

“You see them looking down at iPods, tablets and phones,” he said. “I’ve even seen people reading books while walking.”

Plummer said most don’t bat an eye when they step off a curb into traffic. The university has plans to conduct a study similar to Safe Kids to see just how prevalent the problem is.

Read the full story here.

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