Lessons learned about pedestrian safety as children have been forgotten by older residents of New York in the era of smartphones and other personal electronics, according to authorities on the subject in a recent piece. Just as texting while driving poses a greater risk of an auto accident, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that distracted pedestrians likely played a significant role in the 4,280 pedestrian fatalities in auto accidents that occurred in 2010. A survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance discovered that a majority of pedestrians engage in distracted walking even though many of them understand that the behavior increases the risk of an auto pedestrian accident.
A peer-reviewed study in Injury Prevention painted the problem in different terms through statistical analysis of dangerous behaviors. This 2012 study observed pedestrians crossing busy intersections. Those using an electronic device of any type were classified as distracted, and the total came to one in three with many of them engaged in sending and receiving text messages. Average intersection distances of three to four lanes took those engaged in texting an average of two seconds longer to cross than other pedestrians. When all devices were accounted for, the average increase was 1.3 seconds.
Injuries from walking and texting go beyond auto accidents; emergency rooms saw a 400 percent increase in distracted walking injuries between 2004 and 2011. The problem shown by the Liberty Mutual survey is not one of education as walkers and drivers alike simply refuse to change their behavior.
Those who are injured by or face criminal charges related to another person’s negligent behavior may be eligible for compensation through a civil action. Medical expenses, property damage and pain and suffering caused by another’s negligence may be sufficient grounds for seeking compensation. An attorney with experience litigating motor vehicle accidents may be able to help gather appropriate evidence and assist in the recovery of damages.
Source: Consumer Affairs, “Distracted walking problem getting worse,” Mark Huffman, June 13, 2013