With hints of spring on the way here in the Midwest, more and more people will start heading outside to take advantage of the longer daylight and warmer temperatures. However, with more people sharing the road – whether walking, jogging, biking or driving – more vigilance will be needed to prevent catastrophic accidents.
According to the most recent report on road safety from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed last year in motor vehicle crashes. This accounted for 16 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities. One of the top causes? Digital distraction.
Digital distraction affects everyone
The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that more than 660,000 people use cell phones or smart devices while they drive. Looking at your phone for even just five seconds (the standard amount of time it takes to read a text message) means you travel the length of a football field if driving at 55 mph.
Driving at lower speeds does not guarantee better results, either. The NHTSA reports that 391,000 people were injured and 3,477 were killed as a result of distracted driving nationwide in 2015 (the most recent data available).
However, blame does not fall squarely on distracted drivers, though certainly someone who texts while driving has the potential to do far more damage than a pedestrian or bicyclist. GHSA researchers note that pedestrians themselves are also distracted by their smartphones. Increasingly, pedestrians have taken to texting, looking up directions or scrolling through social media feeds while walking – leading to accidents at intersections, in parking lots and along public roadways where extra caution and awareness is necessary.
Sadly, in spite of new car technologies like back-up cameras, blind-spot blinkers and automatic emergency braking systems (AEBS), pedestrian accidents thus persist in record-high numbers.
What can be done?
Obviously, the most effective way to combat this alarming trend is to put down the phone when you’re out for a stroll, taking a bike ride with your family or running errands around town.
Unfortunately, though, even the most safety-conscious individual could still be hit by someone else who does not take this issue seriously. In such cases, compensation may be available to assist with any ensuing medical expenses, lost wages, emotional trauma, and pain and suffering caused by a distracted driving accident. A skilled personal injury lawyer can help walk you through this process and ensure you receive all of the benefits you’re entitled to.