Grim Reaper Stars In New Campaign Aimed At Discouraging Texting & Walking

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Texting and driving has been outlawed in many states. But can texting and walking be just as dangerous?

A study reported in the Wall Street Journal found ER visits involving injured pedestrians, who were looking at their phones, shot up 124 percent in four years.

Phones are being blamed for 10 percent of pedestrian injuries and half a dozen deaths per year. So, we know it’s a problem, but what can be done about it?

The City of Pittsburgh seems to have an answer.

People texting while walking, talking while walking or just plain being distracted by an electronic device is common, and it can be dangerous.

“I make sure when I’m crossing the street, or when I’m coming down steps, then I won’t do it,” says Bianca Allen, of West Mifflin.

A new public safety campaign, rolled out in the city on Tuesday, is designed to discourage the distractions. The Grim Reaper could pop up when you least expect him, especially if your texting, to remind you of some basics.

“You text, your next,” or “You tweet, you’re going to be flat on the street.”

“As Downtown Pittsburgh becomes more vibrant and more crowded, that means more pedestrians, more people are living downtown, more businesses are opening in downtown, people are biking downtown, so we need to be more aware,” says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

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The Look Alive campaign could also pop up on your cell phone.

If you’re in some busiest areas downtown, like near the Wood Street T Station and are using the browser on your phone, you could get a push messages right on your phone.

It will tell you to “Look Left, Look Right, and Look Alive,” then direct you to the “Look Alive” website.

“We will be using the technology that is distracting to you to hopefully encourage you to look up and think about where you are going,” says Jeremy Waldrup, of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

The joint project of Allegheny County, the Port Authority, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, along with the county Health Department, is focused on downtown for now, but could spread out later.

The hope is with constant reminders everywhere, it could make a difference.

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