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Pedestrian Deaths on the Rise, and Distracted Walking is Playing a Role

By: Allan M. Siegel

Everyone has heard about distracted driving and the role it plays in car accidents and the danger it poses to others on the road. But how many of us have thought about "distracted walking" or "distracted crossing"? We have all done it – walking or crossing a street and becoming too focused on our phones, whether it is reading emails, sending text messages, checking our Twitter feeds, or updating our Facebook walls. We stop paying attention to what is going on around us, and fail to use the same care we should when we are crossing a street or nearing an intersection.

Pedestrian Accidents

Well, this increased distraction may be playing a role in the rise in the number of pedestrians killed in automobile accidents. While other fatalities in auto accidents have been on the decline, since 2010 pedestrian deaths have been increasing. In 2012, 14 percent of traffic fatalities nationally were pedestrians, up from 11 percent in 2007. In the DC area, pedestrian deaths as a percentage of traffic fatalities have grown from 20 percent in 2005 to 24 percent in 2013.

And distracted walking plays a role in at least some of these deaths. While one study showed distracted walking only accounted for 4 percent of pedestrian injuries nationwide, many experts believe this number is too low, as many pedestrians do not want to admit to police or medical personnel that they were not paying attention when an accident occurred. A 2013 Ohio State University study found that the number of injuries treated in 100 emergency rooms nationwide related to pedestrians using cellphones had more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, to more than 1,500.

These numbers are a startling reminder that pedestrian deaths and injuries in automobile accidents are too common. But pedestrians can help reduce these numbers by following those basic rules we were all taught as children :

  • Pay attention when crossing the street,
  • Look both ways before crossing
  • Obey traffic signals

These seem like common sense rules but as the numbers show, too many people are not following them. They are even more important today as distracted driving is playing a greater role in automobile accidents as well. And unlike drivers, who are in cars that are increasingly designed and built for safety, pedestrians have no protection if they are hit by a car, often resulting in serious injuries or death when pedestrians are involved in auto accidents.

The Washington DC personal injury lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., have represented countless pedestrians who have been injured in automobile accidents as the result of negligent drivers. In Washington DC, the frequency of pedestrian accidents is even greater due to the number of drivers and the number of pedestrians crossing the street. If you or someone you care about has been injured as a result of someone else's carelessness, please call the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. We are always here to help.