The City of Honolulu recently outlawed pedestrian use of smart phones while crossing streets in the city. In discussing the new law, the mayor commented on the lack of some pedestrian’s common sense, which forced the city to enact a law like this.
That mayor isn’t the only person to notice a disturbing and deadly trend: pedestrian accidents caused by distracted walkers. While “distracted walking” is dangerous for many reasons, there are three particular dangers that are leading to restrictions on pedestrian cell phone use:
1. Distracted Walkers Can Cause Accidents
Pedestrians looking at smart phone screens, texting, or talking on phones fall off curbs, don’t obey traffic signals and don’t see vehicles. Pedestrians’ abilities to safely see and interpret traffic situations is greatly impaired by the use of smart phones. This means that pedestrians make unsafe or unpredictable decisions, causing drivers to react quickly. Even if the walker isn’t hit by a car, the car may hit another car or an object while averting a collision with the person on foot.
Even “older” technology like talking on the phone or listening to music can impair a walker’s or jogger’s ability to hear approaching vehicles or to properly scan the area to determine when it is safe to cross a street. When pedestrians don’t obey traffic signals, cross in the middle of streets, or cross when it is not safe to do so, auto accidents can easily occur.
2. Distracted Pedestrians Experience a Range of Injuries
Distracted pedestrians trip on cracks, uneven payment, and changes in surfaces. They might slip on water or gravel or fall off curbs. A misstep while getting on and off curbs can lead to falls, sometimes into other people, fixtures or oncoming cars.
Trips, slips and falls commonly result in bruises and scrapes. They can also cause strains, sprains and fractures. Ankles and wrists are common sites of injuries, but any part of the body is at risk of harm when the person being injured is not paying attention to where he is going.
When a pedestrian falls into the path of a car, severe bruising, internal injuries, broken bones, soft-tissue injuries and traumatic brain injuries can occur. The severity of the injuries is often related to the speed of the car. A person hit by a car traveling 20 MPH has only a 10% chance of death, while a person hit by a car going 40 MPH has an 85% chance of death.
3. Distracted Pedestrians Hurt Other People
A pedestrian who isn’t paying attention to her surroundings not only puts herself at risk, she endangers others around her. Distracted walkers behave unpredictably—they stop suddenly; move forward unexpectedly; and may trip, fall or swerve.
People walking dogs, joggers, bicyclists, motorcycle riders, and car and truck drivers all must adjust to the behavior of distracted walkers in order to prevent accidents. Dog leashes may get tangled, joggers may change their paths, bicyclists may have to change their speed or where they are riding. Motorcyclists and vehicle drivers may swerve or stop unexpectedly.
Everyone around pedestrians should be vigilant, particularly near intersections, but when pedestrians aren’t doing their part to keep themselves safe, others must overcompensate to keep everyone safe.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash, get the help that you need from the pedestrian accident attorneys at Cerritos Legal. Call today at 562-865-9356 for your free consultation.