- A majority of people in U.S. cities view texting while driving as a problem, according to a new YouGov Omnibus poll. Denver and Houston expressed the highest concern, with 81% and 80% of citizens respectively saying it was a serious problem.
- Texting while walking was viewed as a less serious problem, with New York City (58%), San Francisco (56%) and Miami (56%) topping the list of concern. Only Cleveland (35%) and Minneapolis (33%) had a majority of respondents saying distracted walking was not a problem.
- The respondents came from YouGov Omnibus' pool of more than 2 million respondents across 20 cities and reflects responses to a survey conducted in August 2018.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured every day in crashes involving a distracted driver. That’s, in part, why the U.S. is on pace for its third straight year with 40,000 or more traffic deaths, according to the National Safety Council. The Governors Highway Safety Association said last year that an 11% increase in the number of persons on foot killed on U.S. roadways in 2016 as compared to 2015 could partly be attributed to the rise of smartphones.
Cities have worked to reduce distracted driving through Vision Zero initiatives to eliminate traffic fatalities, although the ubiquity of phones has made it difficult to stem the problem entirely. Forty-seven states ban text messaging for all drivers, and 16 states bar drivers from using hand-held devices while driving, according to a tally from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Cities like Boston have made distracted driving a priority in Vision Zero plans, and Chicago had even debated supplying police with devices dubbed "textalyzers" that can scan a phone to determine if it was being used to text before an accident.
Even as the YouGov poll found that residents are slightly less concerned about texting while walking, cities have also explored ways to reduce distracted pedestrians. Honolulu made headlines last October with a law subjecting pedestrians to a fine for looking at their phones while crossing a street; Ontario is among the governments considering a similar law. Summit, NJ has even made costly infrastructure changes, expanding the curb in some intersections, to protect pedestrians.
There’s debate over how effective cracking down on pedestrians can be; a study from Northern Arizona University published in June and covered by Curbed found that 86.5% of observed pedestrians were not distracted when crossing streets, and most did not do anything to make a crash more likely.