TRI-CITIES, Wash. — The Governors Highway Safety Association estimates nearly 6,000 pedestrians died after getting hit by cars in 2017, tying 2016 for the highest number of auto-pedestrian deaths in 25 years.
They said one way to stay safe is to stay off your phone.
Police told Action News it's more important than ever to talk to you kids about paying attention to their surroundings instead of their cell phones.
Richland police sergeant Drew Florence said even though it's a driver's responsibility to hit the brakes, pedestrians should avoid wandering blindly into traffic.
Sgt. Florence said folks need to reinforce the rules for the road we learned as children.
"Looking both ways and that type of thing," he explained. "We want to make sure kids remember those things."
He said in some ways walking around with your head in your phone is just as dangerous as distracted-driving, except when it's your body versus a car, the odds aren't in your favor.
"There's a reason you can't drive while using them," Florence said. "They can become distractions when you're reading a text and you're walking down the road. You may step off a curb without looking."
Kennewick police sergeant Aaron Clem said accidents happen.
"Not intended accidents," he explained. "Maybe a driver is looking down at their phone and they miss a turn, if your heads not up and your eyes open, you may miss that."
Sgt. Clem said earlier this month a car hit a another car, which started a train reaction injuring a pedestrian.
"Don't assume that because you're on the sidewalk you aren't going to be involved in a collision," he said.
That's why Clem said it's important for everybody to know what's going on around them.
"When kids are in groups they tend to chase each other and play games and have fun," he said. "They don't always pay attention to the street signs, they dont stop at corners, they dash out between cars."
The National Safety Council advises parents talk to their kids about storing their phone as they walk to and from school, even if they just use it for music.
"With headphones in, you don't hear things that you'd normally be attuned to," said Sgt. Florence. "Like a car revving its engine."
Clem listed are other things to listen for.
"Squealing tires, a collision, somebody running up behind you. If there's danger approaching, you have an opportunity to get away from it, avoid it, at your earliest possible convenience."
Experts said if your kid absolutely must listen to music while out and about, keeping one ear open is better than nothing. Try tying off an earbud so only one side is usable at a time.