According to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) 6,227 fatal pedestrian accidents occurred in 2018, the highest number of accidents in the past three decades. While improvements to motor vehicle safety and laws against driving under the influence or distracted have increased protection for drivers, pedestrians remain mostly unprotected and at higher risk of suffering deadly injuries from a car accident. Drivers aren’t the only ones guilty of distractions, pedestrians using handheld devices are also at risk of causing accidents. Studies have found that pedestrians who are texting and walking have a higher risk of being involved in an accident than others who are not engaging in these activities.
Why is Texting and Walking Dangerous?
Driving and texting is a danger for drivers, pedestrians and bikers and 47 states have set laws against it, drivers who are found breaking these laws are charged heavy fines. Surveys by the NHTSA estimate that in 2018l, 9.7% of drivers used a handheld device while driving at any moment during the day.
The dangers of texting are not exclusive to driving, a recent study by The University of Calgary in Canada found that texting also puts pedestrians in danger. Texting while walking can distract pedestrians from dangers on the street like oncoming traffic or a light that just turned green. The study determined that using a handheld device is more dangerous than listening to music or talking on the phone. While these activities can also be distracting our eyes are still focused on the road, if you’re texting your attention is mainly focused on the device. And it’s not just texting that puts us at risk of an accident, sending an email, reading a text, using social media, all these actions pull our attention away from the street.
Just as texting while driving, texting and walking has caused a debate among lawmakers and many cities have considered making it illegal or imposing fines on distracted pedestrians. In 2017 Honolulu enacted a law that bans using a handheld device while walking. Pedestrians that break the law will be fined a minimum of $15 for firs time offenses and higher rates of up to $99 for third time offenders. The city has had positive results with their new law and other major cities may also follow with their own laws against distracted walking just as they have laws against texting and driving.
Injuries in Pedestrian Accidents
Drivers in car accidents are protected by seat belts, airbags, the car’s structure, and other safety features newer car models are equipped with. Pedestrians are not wearing helmets or have any protective gear to protect their bodies in case of an accident, which is one of the reasons why many results in fatalities or permanent disabling injuries. Common injuries a pedestrian can suffer in an accident include:
- Broken bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Brain injuries
Safety Tips for Pedestrians
Walking distracted could result in a serious accident with severe injuries or property damage. Pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility and we can all take certain safety precautions to prevent getting hurt.
- Avoid walking and texting, if you must use your phone, move to a safe place away from cars and other pedestrians.
- Pay attention when crossing a street, don’t use an electronic device while crossing an intersection.
- Always be aware of your surroundings, check for oncoming cars, other pedestrians and bicycles and see if you may be in their way.
- Use crosswalks and always obey traffic signals.
- Don’t assume that drivers will always give you the right-of-way, always check for oncoming traffic when crossing the street.
Pedestrian accident lawyers Bross, McAllister & Williams state that on average one pedestrian is killed every 88 minutes in the U.S. It is not only the government’s responsibility to ensure our safety as drivers and pedestrians, but we are all accountable for the actions we take that could endanger our lives. Limiting the use of handheld devices while we walk, or drive is one way we can make roads safer for everyone.