Cell Phone Use – The Rising Cause of Pedestrian Injuries and Deaths

Walking has tremendous health benefits; this is the reason why, in 2013, at least four million Americans said they preferred to walk to the office, while 860,000 said they rode a bike. A report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) on the number of pedestrians killed in traffic says, however, that there has been a six percent increase in the number of fatal accidents involving pedestrians during the first six months of 2015 as compared with the same period of the previous year: from 2,232 – 2,368.

While cars are now more crashworthy compared to 10 years ago due to the safety features these are now equipped with, these features protect drivers and passengers during a crash. Pedestrians, on the other, hand remain vulnerable and, with the rise in U.S. pedestrian fatalities, pedestrian safety continues to be a problem across the country.

The GHSA identifies the increase in the number of:

  • Americans walking for health;
  • Motor vehicle traveling;
  • Miles traveled by motor vehicles;
  • Alcohol-impaired drivers and pedestrians; and,
  • Pedestrians and drivers who are more engrossed in using their cell phone while walking or driving, respectively.

Based on a study made by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) researchers on accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians, it is reported that drivers of passenger vehicles are more distracted than ever. As expected, this very recent study corroborates results of studies conducted years ago which say that the ones most prone to engage in distracted activities while driving are younger drivers, particularly teens.

Though alcohol is still a major contributing factor to pedestrian accidents, accidents due to cell phone use is continuously on the rise. Though quite funny, but definitely exasperating, 53% of adults, according to the Pew Research Center (a non-partisan American “fact tank” based in Washington, D.C.) have bumped into something as a result of distracted walking; one man in La Crescenta, California even came within feet of a 400-pound black bear.

In 2013, about 150,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal crash-related injuries, while 4,735 lost their lives. A pedestrian, as defined in the NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Fact Sheet, is any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting or lying down.

As explained by Habush Habush & Rottier S.C.®, vehicle versus pedestrian accidents occur more often than many realize. An accident tends to have worse result, though, if the vehicle involved were an SUV or a truck because vehicles with a bumper height that is above the waist level has the tendency to throw a pedestrian forward and run over such pedestrian, resulting to more severe, if not fatal, injuries.

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