A distracted driver hitting another motorist seems to be in the news daily. However, it’s not just drivers and occupants of vehicles who are in danger. A new report reveals that the number of bicyclists and pedestrians killed by distracted driving has risen dramatically.
From 2005 to 2010, the number of pedestrians struck and killed by distracted drivers in the United States went up nearly 50 percent, from 344 to 500. For cyclists, the numbers of those killed rose from 56 to 73 – a 30 percent increase.
Sadly, statistics related to distracted driving may actually be underreported since it is difficult for law enforcement to prove. Although safety features in cars are helping to reduce the number of motorist deaths, bicyclists and pedestrians remain vulnerable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrians were one of the few groups of road users to experience an increase in fatalities in the United States in 2011, totaling 4,432 deaths.
‘Tis the Season
While we should always focus on our driving and refrain from texting or other distracting behaviors, the holidays pose a special risk. This time of year brings an influx of drivers and pedestrians to many areas as we all rush around, buying gifts and preparing for parties. The attorneys at Elk & Elk remind you that one text or call could wreck it all. Please commit to distraction-free driving.
Ways to keep pedestrians safe
On average, a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes. To raise awareness, the NHTSA has launched a new campaign entitled Everyone is a Pedestrian.
- Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
- Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians, too.
- Be cautious when backing up – pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path.
- Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road, cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey signs and signals.
- Walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk.
- Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
- Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
- Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.
- Look left-right-left before crossing a street.
Source: “Fatalities of Pedestrians, Bicycle Riders, and Motorists Due to Distracted Driving Motor Vehicle Crashes in the U.S., 2005–2010” by Jim P. Stimpson, PhD; Fernando A. Wilson, PhD; and Robert L. Muelleman, MD; Public Health Reports, University of Nebraska Medical Center, November-December 2013.