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Car accidents, pedestrian and bicycle crashes can be caused by distracted text messaging

A 15-year-old girl suffered head and back injuries after she fell off a horse.

A 13-year-old girl burned her arm, leg and abdomen cooking noodles.

President-elect Barack Obama’s aide, Valerie Jarrett, fell off a curb in Chicago and sprained her ankle.

The culprit? Text messaging.

There is increasing evidence that text messaging is contributing to serious injury, according to retired EMS Captain Jay Anderson, who cited the examples above in a recent paper released by the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition.

Anderson, who also is the executive director of “Stay Alive … Just Drive,” said the first public awareness of the dangers of text messaging came in June 2007 on a rural highway in upstate New York, when five young women just out of high school died in an accident. Records indicate a text message was sent from the driver’s phone 38 seconds before the first 911 call.

The American College of Emergency Physicians
recently warned that being distracted by text messaging at inappropriate times, such as while cross the street, can result in serious injury or death.

“People assume that driving while text messaging is the most dangerous,” Anderson said. “(But) physicians from around the country now cite rising reports of injuries involving texting while walking, bicycling, boating, rollerblading or jogging.”

Two deaths have been reported in California as a result of people walking into traffic while texting.

“We tend to believe we’re capable of multitasking, but in fact we are not,” Anderson said, noting it only takes a split second at 45 mph for everything to change. “Awareness is the key to understanding how one second can change a life forever.”

Anderson and the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition provided the following 5 safety tips:

1) Don’t text or talk on the phone in situations requiring constant attention, such as walking in a busy area, playing sports, rollerblading, cycling or sailing.

2) Never text or use your cell phone while driving or riding a motorcycle and know that, although hands-free systems can be useful, they do not provide a solution to distracted driving.

3) Keep wireless devices handy and easily accessible so you don’t have to rummage around in backpacks, briefcases or purses, which can divert your attention from more important tasks.

4) Don’t hesitate to ignore a call or message if it could interfere with what you’re doing. Consider shutting off your phone before taking part in activities that require a high level of attention, like driving.

5) Always be aware of your surroundings and never text or talk when doing so could compromise the safety of you or someone else.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by a distracted driver, there are certain things you can do to help protect your rights. Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers, has been fighting for the rights of accident victims in Southwest Florida for four decades and offers free appointments to discuss your rights at any of the firms offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Arcadia, Sebring, Port Charlotte or Venice.