About This Lesson Plan


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Distracted Walking = Dangerous Walking

You’ve probably seen it at your school—kids bumping into lockers or other kids because they’re texting or talking on the phone, or students missing announcements because they’re walking around listening to music. Distracted walking can have serious or even deadly consequences for pedestrians who are not watching where they’re going or listening to traffic. Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise, and pedestrian cellphone-related injuries have more than doubled since 2005, according to an Ohio State University study.

Use this quiz to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted walking and encourage your students to walk safely.

Students will complete a quiz and analyze facts about distracted walking.


  • Participate in collaborative discussions
  • Read informational text
  • Conduct research

Students will be able to:

  • Identify pedestrian safety tips and unsafe distracted walking habits
  • Analyze facts and details about the dangers of distracted walking
  • Reflect on their own behavior and habits as pedestrians

Copies of the Distracted Walking = Dangerous Walking student activity sheet

Introduction (5 minutes)
Write the term “distracted walking” on the board and ask students to brainstorm what the term means. Record their responses. Remind students that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identifies anyone on foot as a pedestrian, including people walking, running, jogging, or hiking. Explain to students that distracted walking includes any activity that takes your eyes and ears off the road, like texting, talking on the phone, playing electronic games, and listening to music with headphones.

Whole Group (15 minutes)
Distribute the Distracted Walking = Dangerous Walking activity sheet and have students complete the quiz independently. Once they’re done, review the answers as a class and discuss any facts that students found surprising.

Activity Answers

  1. A. every 7 minutes
  2. C. 4,700
  3. True
  4. F. B and C (texting and wearing headphones)
  5. False. In 2012, most pedestrian fatalities happened at non-intersections.
  6. True.
  7. D. All the same.
  8. False. At intersections with traffic lights, pedestrians should follow the traffic and pedestrian light signals. In crosswalks with “stop for pedestrians” walk signs, pedestrians should stop and look, and cannot assume drivers will see them.
Small Group (30 minutes)
Have students work in small groups to research additional facts and stories about distracted walking and its consequences. Invite each group to present its findings.

Conclusion (5 minutes)
Ask each group to identify facts about distracted walking they think other students and adults should know to help them stay safe.

If you have access to your school’s outdoor track, have students participate in a distracted walking demonstration. Create chalk lines or place strips of paper at designated points on the track to represent crosswalks where students should stop. Then organize students into three teams: distracted walkers, focused pedestrians, and observers. The distracted walkers should be texting or listening to music while walking in assigned lanes of the track. The focused pedestrians should also walk in assigned lanes of the track—these students can be in the same lanes as the distracted walkers and may walk in the opposite direction. The observers should watch the distracted walkers and record their behaviors, noting the following:
  • Do they stay in their lanes?
  • Are they aware of other walkers (do they know they’re approaching, do they get out of the way, etc.)?
  • Do they stop at the designated “intersection” markings?
Have the observers present their findings and have each group of walkers discuss their experiences and how they can improve their own walking habits.

Sources for Activity Answers
  1. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811888.pdf
  2. http://www.safekids.org/sites/default/files/documents/ResearchReports/skw_pedestrian_study_2013.pdf
  3. “Everyone Is a Pedestrian” brochure available at http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/everyoneisapedestrian/index.html
  4. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/01/02/more-than-half-of-cell-owners-affected-by-distracted-walking/
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