With all of the “Don’t text and drive” ads, most of us know that distracted driving is extremely dangerous. But, have you considered the danger posed by distracted pedestrians? For a personal injury lawyer, this is a type of claim that may be overlooked by many potential clients.
The unseen danger of a distracted pedestrian
Our society is attached to their smart phones, so much that people cross the street without ever taking their eyes off their device. Pedestrians can be seen, especially in areas near colleges and universities, texting while walking, which can result in a person falling off the curb or even walking into traffic. While it is obviously necessary for pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings, drivers on the roadway must also be more diligent in avoiding these unique dangers.
How distracted pedestrians create havoc on the roadway
According to some studies, a pedestrian standing at a corner, who is distracted by their electronic device (whether texting or making a call) typically has at least a two-second delay before crossing the street. This can easily cause confusion for everyone at the intersection, especially the drivers. Also, because of these distractions, these pedestrians often do not make it all the way across the street before the light changes. As they are oblivious to their surroundings, they create a dangerous situation for drivers.
How are electronic devices so distracting to pedestrians
Studies show that injuries to distracted pedestrians are becoming more common. In a study conducted by Richard Wener, a professor from Polytechnic Institute of New York University it was found that an alarming number of cell phone users unknowingly stepped into a crosswalk while a vehicle was approaching. Pedestrians who are using cell phones or MP3 players not only become preoccupied with texting, talking, or listening to music, but they may also become isolated from the sounds of their surroundings, such as car horns, ambulance or police sirens and train whistles.
The prevalence of pedestrian accidents
According to statistics on pedestrian accidents in the U.S., reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA), at least 180,000 pedestrians were killed in car accidents between 1975 and 2005. In 2005 alone, 4,881 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents, and on average, a pedestrian is injured in a road accident every eight minutes. Many of these accidents could have been prevented if those victims were more attentive to their surroundings.
How often are distracted pedestrians injured?
Unfortunately, the percentage of pedestrians killed while using cell phones has risen from less than 1 percent in 2004 to more than 3.5 percent in 2010. According to the same study, conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, the number of pedestrians injured while on their cell phones has more than doubled since 2005. More concerning is the fact that this problem is particularly prevalent among teens. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. teens have been hit or nearly hit by a passing car, motorcycle, or bike, most of those incidents involved cell phone-related distraction.
The pedestrian could be at fault for their own injuries
Typically, the driver is held liable for hitting and injuring a pedestrian. However, in situations where contributory or comparative negligence is involved, that may not be the case. While drivers are required to be more cautious when they know pedestrians are likely to be present, pedestrians are not without fault in every situation. As your personal injury lawyer will tell you, depending on the situation, the pedestrian may be liable to the driver.
A driver’s duty to maintain vigilance when pedestrians are present
Whenever a driver knows a pedestrian is, or might be in the vicinity, she is required to be extra vigilant and maintain strict control of her vehicle. For example, a driver may be traveling only 25 miles per hour in a residential area, but if they see a child swerving down the street on a bike, and the driver does not slow down even more, they could be held liable for any subsequent accident.
When a pedestrian may be held liable
In situations where a pedestrian takes some action that makes it impossible for the driver to avoid a collision, a court may determine that the pedestrian was actually responsible for the accident. Put another way, if the pedestrian behaves in a way that forces a reasonable driver to take evasive measures to avoid a collision, the pedestrian may, in fact, be responsible. If you have been involved in an accident involving a pedestrian, contact your personal injury lawyer for help in investigating your case.
If you have questions regarding automobile accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, contact us online or call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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