Distracted Pedestrians

woman-crossing-street-looking-at-cell-phone-distractedYou are on your way to lunch, a route you have walked a thousand times. You receive a call just as you are about to cross the intersection. The light is green for pedestrians, and you step into the road while speaking to a friend. The next minute you hear the squeal of tires, and days later, you wake up in the hospital.

You suffer from multiple fractures, cuts, bruises, lacerations to your face and body, and PTSD from the trauma. Your treatment and rehabilitation will take several months to complete, leaving you without any income to provide for your family and pay the medical bills. How do you face this uncertain future?

When  you suffer an injury, loss, or damages due to a car accident caused by negligence, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, the personal injury attorneys for car accident victims, can advise you regarding:

  • Your legal rights 
  • Identifying  who is liable for your damages 
  • How you can receive maximum compensation for your injury
  • Filing a personal injury lawsuit 

Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free case review and consultation.

Do Distracted Drivers or Distracted Pedestrians That Cause Most Pedestrian Accidents? 

Many pedestrian accident victims are never sure what happened during a collision. Did the pedestrian divert their attention (distracted walking), or was the driver’s focus on something else? 

According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 6,205 pedestrians and 843 bicyclists were killed in 2019. Approximately 76,000 pedestrians and 49,000 bicyclists were injured in a motor vehicle crash on public roadways in the United States. Pedestrians comprised about 17 % of crash deaths, and bicyclists made up an additional 2 %.

Was The Pedestrian Distracted? 

In new research findings, Rutgers University released a study that found a substantial over-emphasis on the ‘problem’ of distracted walking or distracted pedestrians in traffic safety. They based this on their analysis of multiple observations, experiments, and data sets. 

The result of the study is that distracted walking is a factor in a minimal share of car accidents, which they estimated between 5% and 10%, and most definitely less than 20%. The evidence shows the following have a subtle effect on pedestrian behavior:

  • Texting
  • Pedestrians talking on a cellphone
  • Listening to music through devices 

The meta-analysis of all the studies on distracted walking does not show increased risks of pedestrian deaths and severe injuries. On the contrary, the research points out that these figures surpass other mitigating factors in pedestrian accidents and pedestrian deaths, such as:

The study shows distracted walking detracts attention from the real risks, minimizing traffic safety.

Despite the research of Rutgers University, the simple fact remains that when the pedestrian’s eyes are not on the road and other road users, you cannot stay alert and be aware of the danger of a negligent driver approaching.  

Pedestrian behavior influences walking speed, influencing their reaction time when a walk signal turns red. A split-second hesitancy before stepping into the road could result in pedestrian deaths when distracted. 

Was The Driver Distracted By ‘Distracted Pedestrians,’ Or Just Distracted?

According to a study/survey by CarInsurance.org, paired with FARS data, 72 % of drivers report that they’ve seen an increase in pedestrians who exhibit distracted behavior over the past five years. 

Pedestrian Distraction Or Distracted Walking Statistics

In a CarInsurance.org survey of 802 drivers, the following regarding distracted pedestrians was found:

  • 76% were people walking, looking, or using their phone
  • 72% were people walking and talking on their cell phone
  • 71% were not looking for oncoming traffic
  • 71% were crossing at a location other than the crosswalk or intersection
  • 70% were people walking while wearing headphones 
  • 64% were not looking for vehicles entering or exiting driveways
  • 63% were people walking and talking to a companion
  • 61% of pedestrians thought that they had the right of way when they did not
  • 60% were behaving unpredictably
  • 49% of people walked while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • 46% of people walked while eating
  • 79% of drivers had seen a distracted pedestrian in the last month
  • 35 %  of drivers reported seeing a distracted pedestrian or ‘distracted walking’ at least once a week
  • 57% of drivers believed that teenage age groups were more at risk of being distracted pedestrians, but it turns out to be adult pedestrians
  • 47% of pedestrian deaths in accidents were pedestrians crossing a roadway or expressway  
  • 27% of pedestrian deaths in accidents were pedestrians were on the road, either walking/running along the highway; dashing across, or playing in the roadway 

These statistics clearly show the challenges drivers face regarding pedestrian distraction behavior. The high percentages indicated in many distracted walking activities witnessed by drivers may influence and contribute to pedestrian safety and the resulting fatalities. 

Drivers Distracted by Other Factors

When a driver’s distraction causes a crash, the accident is classified as a distraction-affected accident. In another 2019 study, ‘Distracted Drivers 2019’, using FARS/NHTSA data, 566 nonoccupants (pedestrians, pedal cyclists, and others) were killed in driver distraction-affected fatal crashes. 

Although cell phone use (calling and texting) might be the leading factor of distracted driving, other factors exist. Some of the biggest risk factors for pedestrian traffic deaths include the driver eating, talking to other passengers, or adjusting the radio and climate controls.   

Pedestrian Safety

Distracted driving places pedestrian safety at risk. Far too many pedestrian deaths and injuries could have been prevented, with individuals suffering severe unintended consequences from a distracted driver or a pedestrian’s distracted walking. 

Some solutions could include brainstorming more complex ideas about numerous deadly risk factors, not just victim-blaming pesky pedestrians who are unaware of their surroundings.

Changes in Legislation

In many states, transportation practitioners have aided creating laws passed to prevent the use of cell phones when walking to change habits and save lives. Cities such as Honolulu, Rexburg, Idaho, and Montclair, California, have passed legislation fining distracted pedestrians walking while using their cellphones and crossing the street. 

The policing or enforcement of these laws is paramount. Even though the quieter, residential areas might receive disproportionate enforcement attention, as regards the more urban city centers, persistence can save lives and shape policy solutions, to further this initiative.

In May 2019, a statewide bill was sent to the New York Senate to ban pedestrians from distracted walking and from using any portable electronic device when crossing the road. Except for emergencies, distraction could involve texting, checking emails, and browsing the internet. 

Reducing Vehicle Speeds

According to a study of US pedestrian crashes, the average risk of serious  injury to pedestrians increased from:

  • 10% at an impact speed of 17 mph
  • 25% at an impact speed of 25 mph
  • 50% at an impact speed of 33 mph
  • 75% at an impact speed of 41 mph
  • 90% at an impact speed of 48 mph

The use of innovative engineering initiatives in the pedestrian infrastructure to reduce speeds with traffic control devices, such as speed humps and multiway stop signs, can partner with lowering speed limits on city streets, preventing vehicles from traveling at higher speeds, and can prevent more pedestrian deaths.

Improve Vehicle Design

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most pedestrians are struck by the front of a vehicle when involved in a pedestrian accident. The extent of the pedestrian injuries or death depends on the following:

  • Speed the vehicle was traveling
  • Height of the pedestrian
  • The shape of the bumper and front end of the vehicle. 

Generally, pedestrians hit the vehicles on the bumper or the front edge of the hood. The body is impacted higher with taller vehicles such as SUVs or pickup trucks. Taller vehicles result in more pedestrian fatalities and severe injuries. 

In the study of pedestrian accidents between 2009 and 2016, it was found that fatal single-vehicle accidents involving SUVs increased by 81% more than other vehicle types.  

In an attempt to save lives, the automotive industry has come up with the following safety mechanisms for vehicles:

  • Leaving more room between the hood and engine
  • Designing pop-up hoods that automatically lift a few inches upon impact
  • Adding pedestrian hood airbags that cover the parts of the windshield and A-pillar where pedestrians frequently hit their heads
  • Designing bumpers with more give 

Crash Technology To Avoid Accidents

Technology is being harnessed effectively in the fight against pedestrian deaths. Pedestrian detection systems in vehicles constantly monitor traffic in the front of the cars and alert drivers of potential pedestrian crashes. These systems automatically apply the brakes when a collision is approaching. 

A study found that cars equipped with the automatic braking feature that detects pedestrians experienced a 27% decrease in pedestrian crashes and a 30% decrease in injury crash rates than vehicles without the feature.  

Pedestrian safety efforts also include implementing rearview cameras, which have been shown to prevent reverse backing collisions with pedestrians. 

Generate Sounds For Electric And Hybrid Vehicles

In a government study, accidents involving hybrid vehicles and similar non-hybrid vehicles found that having an accident with a pedestrian was 39% higher for hybrids than for nonhybrid vehicles in places where the speed limits were 35mph. 

Where the hybrids were performing specific maneuvers such as turning, stopping, or reversing, the accident rate went up to 66%. These maneuvers rely almost entirely on electric power when being executed. 

These high percentages are because electric vehicles emit less sound than vehicles with combustion engines, especially hybrid vehicles, relying solely on electricity. A vehicle’s sound assists pedestrians, particularly the visually impaired, in detecting the vehicle and how it is maneuvering. Without sound, distracted walkers cannot be warned of impending disaster.

As of March 2021, all new hybrid and electric vehicles must emit a motorlike sound when moving forward or in reverse at a speed of up to 19 mph.

Adjust Daylight Times To Peak Hours Time

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, adding an hour of light to the afternoon goes a long way to improve vehicles and pedestrians’ visibility during peak times. Research has shown that implementing daylight saving time all year round could assist with the prevention of pedestrian deaths and injuries.  

IIHS estimates that 900 fatal accidents, 727 involving pedestrian deaths, and 174 involving vehicle drivers and passengers could have been avoided between 1987 and 91 if daylight saving time was in effect throughout the year.

Improve Road Planning And Design 

Planning and design teams are in charge of understanding and managing roadway conditions, pedestrian use, and creating spaces for bicycles that share the street. These teams could include:

  • Transportation practitioners
  • Engineers and planners of the transportation systems
  • Transportation research board
  • Public health officials
  • Law enforcement officers

Use Signs and Pavement Markings To Prompt Pedestrians

Designing unique warning signs or pavement markings, prompting pedestrians to look for vehicles before crossing and adjust their walking speed, can aid distracted pedestrians. Specialized in-pavement flashing lights can be synchronized to flash concurrently with the traffic lights. Pedestrians can be alerted to cross safely when in ‘distracted walking’ mode.

Pedestrian hybrid beacons assist in making pedestrians more visible to motorists by warning motorists at crosswalks when pedestrians are present. When pedestrians aren’t present, the signals remain dark. A 2019 study showed that pedestrian hybrid beacons were associated with a 59% decrease in pedestrian accidents.

Install Design Features To Force Crossings and Intersections 

Protecting pedestrians from deadly consequences can be utilized using design strategies. Sidewalks are substantially separated from the roadway and motor vehicles, paying attention to urban areas with more pedestrians.

Deterrents like poles or short shrubs can be placed or planted between the sidewalk and the roadway. The barrier prevents pedestrians from veering off the sidewalk, except at openings made at legal crossings. 

Another strategy is for pedestrians to cross streets by overpasses, underpasses, and median islands in busy two-way streets. Curb extensions can minimize the time pedestrians spend on the road and increase drivers’ visibility.

Changes To Traffic Signals

Changes can be made to traffic signals, such as:

  • Signal phasing
  • Stopping all car traffic for a portion of the pedestrian crossing signal duration
  • Left-turn phasing, where left-turning traffic will have a green arrow and crossing pedestrians will have a red light.

Prolonging the period pedestrians have to cross at intersections can aid pedestrian safety, noting the walking speed of senior adult pedestrians, pedestrians with walking impairments, or vision impaired people. Giving a three to four-second head start through the leading pedestrian interval has increased the amount of left-turning vehicles yielding to pedestrians.

In a 10-year study conducted in Detroit, the research findings showed that pedestrian countdown signals, which show the amount of time remaining to cross the street with the green light, were associated with reduced crashes with pedestrians.

Hire a Car Accident Attorney To Resolve Your Compensation Claim

Did you suffer a property loss or injured in a car accident? Contact our car accident lawyer as soon as possible, and allow them to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. 

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