Distracted Driving Puts Pedestrians, Cyclists at Risk

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.

cross walk

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.

Drivers can…

  • 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.

Pedestrians can…

  • 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.

Ohio Personal Injury Lawyers: Walking and texting an underreported danger

The number of pedestrians killed and injured due to distractions from electronic devices appears to be on the rise. The Ohio personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk want all walkers to be aware of the dangers of walking and texting.

Studies have proven, and you have likely noticed yourself, that most people can’t focus on two things at once. But how many of us continue to text and drive or text and walk? Although there is a lot of attention being focused on ending texting and driving, evidence shows that distracted walking is a growing problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 4,280 pedestrians died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2010, a 4% increase from 2009. Officials estimated another 70,000 were injured, an increase of 19 percent from 2009. According to the NHTSA, on average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes. Pedestrian deaths accounted for 13% of all traffic fatalities in 2010.

Many officials believe the recent increase in pedestrians injured and killed is tied to the increase in pedestrians distracted by electronics – cell phones, iPods and other portable devices.

Reports of injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years and are almost certainly underreported. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 1,152 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms in the United States last year for injuries suffered while walking and using a cellphone or some other electronic device. But officials believe that number is likely an underestimate, because many patients may not mention they were using a cellphone at the time they were injured or the doctor or nurse may neglect to include the information in their report.

Officials and safety groups are working hard to find ways to protect people, without infringing on their personal rights.

In Delaware, officials are using a public education to increase awareness of the issue, placing decals on crosswalks and sidewalks at busy intersections urging pedestrians to “Look up. Drivers aren’t always looking out for you.”

Efforts to legislate distracted walking have proved mostly futile. The Utah Transit Authority adopted an ordinance banning pedestrians from using cellphones, headphones or other distracting electronic devices while crossing the tracks of its light rail system in Salt Lake City. However, the state legislature refused to make it a statewide law. Other distracted walking bills in Arkansas, Illinois and New York also failed.

The Ohio accident attorneys at Elk & Elk encourage you to avoid texting while walking to reduce your risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident. No text message is worth you being killed or injured in a pedestrian-vehicle accident.

While it is important that pedestrians pay attention while they are walking or jogging, it is also important for drivers to watch and pay attention. As U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “Roadway safety is a two-way street that requires effort on the part of motorists and pedestrians alike.”

If you or someone you love was injured in a pedestrian-vehicle accident, contact the Ohio accident attorneys at Elk & Elk. We have almost 50 years of experience representing victims of pedestrian accidents and we can help you and your loved ones get the justice you deserve. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today.