(WBBH) It may seem harmless, but a new study shows walking and texting can be a deadly distraction.
We have probably all done it.
"I ran into a car - a parked car - while I was looking at my phone. I was like 'oh, wait'" said Mackenzie Fraley, a Fort Myers High School senior.
Fraley laughs about it now. But, a new study shows walking while distracted can be dangerous; even deadly.
Safe Kids Worldwide conducted its first study of how teenagers cross the road. Researchers followed 34,000 children ages 16 and under. They discovered teenagers are more at risk of getting hit by cars while distracted than any other demographic they have studied in the past.
"We talk to so many young kids about safety, look left-right-left. But as kids get older, we worry about other things and we don't really talk to them about walking to and from school. Those are the kids that do walk to and from school," said Sally Kreuscher with Golisano's Children Hospital.
"You just never know what's going to be in front of you. It seems like teenagers especially are so unaware of their surroundings," said Jennifer Fraley, a Fort Myers mom.
The study revealed one in eight middle school students were distracted while texting and walking. Even worse, one in five high school students were distracted while texting and walking.
When the study asked the teen if they thought their age group was most at risk, the majority said no.
"I always think that I'm never going to get hit. I'm not going to hit somebody. Nothing's going to happen to me. It could," said Mackenzie Fraley.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, teenagers between the ages 15 and 19 account for half of all pedestrian deaths under 19.
"Awareness is key," said Kreuscher.
The study found teens were just as distracted by wearing headphones as they were by texting.
"Just don't. It's not important. It's not that important. It can wait," said Mackenzie Fraley.
Safe Kids Worldwide urges parents to talk to their teens about walking distractions before school starts in a few weeks.
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