The great majority of us use a cell phone on a daily basis and most of us walk someplace too, whether to pick up a child at the bus stop, a lunch break to pick up a sandwich, or walking the dog. Often, this walking time is used to check email, peruse social media, or send a quick text. A good way to multi-task while getting some exercise? Perhaps. But lately it’s become riskier as a recent study shows that using your phone as you walk is more dangerous, and likely to cause an accident, than listening to music or even talking on the phone. As a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian sees this as a safety concern that isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. Given our ever-present cell phones and the need to always feel connected, it’s an issue that effects everyone, adults and parents alike, and needs to be addressed.
Be Alert as a Pedestrian
Over 6,000 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. in 2018. This is the highest number in more than 20 years, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). While this recent study may be small and need more in-depth research, the issue of distracted walking and distracted driving is big. While innovations in safety technology have increased the survivability of victims in automobile crashes, pedestrians still remain susceptible to critical, or fatal, injuries when hit by a vehicle.
In a city like Providence, walking is convenient, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly. It’s also a good form of exercise. Clearly, the solution isn’t to tell pedestrians to stay off the street. Yet, it does make sense for those on foot to simply be more aware of their surroundings, instead of looking down at a smartphone. A pedestrian can’t change the unsafe behavior of negligent motorists like, drunk driving, speeding, and aggressive driving, all of which contribute greatly to pedestrian accidents that we see as personal injury attorneys in Rhode Island. In no way is a pedestrian at fault for a driver’s bad behavior. A pedestrian can be, however, aware and perhaps in some cases, more likely to anticipate an impending crash. But if the person is looking down to send a text, they may not be alert to the speeding car that just ran through a red light and is fast approaching the crosswalk they are entering.
The study, by researchers at the University of Calgary, analyzed the cause behind hundreds of pedestrian incidents. Throughout the study, texting while walking was associated with a higher rate of mishaps, like a failure to look left and right when crossing the road, and near-misses. Those listening to music did not seem to be affected while those talking on a cell phone had a small risk.
What Has Contributed to A Rise in Pedestrian Accidents?
There are a number of factors that affect the rate of pedestrian accidents and deaths each year and the latest research points to smartphones as a significant contributor. Cellphone distractions in these scenarios can be attributed to both the motorist driving the vehicle who hits the pedestrian, as well as the pedestrian who is distracted by looking at their cell phone. An accident could arise as a result of the driver, the pedestrian, or a combination of both. For example, the driver of a car may be using a phone to send a text while driving and collide with a pedestrian who is walking across the street looking down while texting a friend. In this situation, both the motorist and the pedestrian may share fault for the crash. Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney David Tapalian knows a person on foot against a heavy SUV is a mis-matched fight, and the pedestrian is likely to be the one to suffer the brunt of the impact and suffer serious, possibly life-threatening, injuries.
In addition to technology use, there are other influences that affect pedestrian accidents each year including weather conditions, population growth, and traffic infrastructure. Growth in the popularity of larger sport utility vehicles (SUV) over the years has been linked to pedestrian fatalities, however, while the number of SUV’s associated with pedestrian fatalities has increased due to their prevalence on the road, it is cars, not SUV’s, that are still involved in the largest percentage of these types of crashes.
Ways to Address the Issue
There is no quick solution to this important safety concern, and it must be addressed in a number of ways including education, enforcement, and infrastructure.
Education- Knowledge is power, it’s said. Educate both pedestrians and drivers on the serious dangers of texting and walking and texting and driving. Its everyone’s problem. A particular focus on new teen drivers who lack the experience and maturity of a more skilled driver and who have grown up with smartphones may be beneficial.
Enforcement- Local and state police continue to monitor, and penalize, for negligent driving behaviors like distracted driving, operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, and road rage. By now, everyone knows it’s illegal to text or use a hand-held device while driving in RI and MA. Still, as a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer, David Tapalian helps car accident victims everyday who are hurt in crashes caused by a distracted driver.
Infrastructure- Improve roads and traffic areas that are lacking, i.e. blind corners with poor visibility, addition of clearly marked crosswalks, and more sidewalks. This is a long-term process across years, decades in some instances, and depends on available funding. Much has been improved and continues to be, in the way of vehicle safety technology such as blind spot and pedestrian sensors.
If You’ve Been Hurt, Contact Tapalian Law in Providence, RI
If you, or someone you love, has been injured in a car accident or hurt by a distracted driver, its important to protect your legal rights. Seek immediate medical attention and then contact Injury Attorney David Tapalian for a free legal consultation. David and his skilled personal injury team will fight to get you the compensation you deserve after you’ve been hurt in an accident in Rhode Island or Massachusetts. With a main office in Providence and offices in Warwick RI and Seekonk MA, we are conveniently located to all local cities and towns. If you are too hurt to come to us, we will come to you in the hospital or at your home. We offer a free, no-obligation, consultation and are ready to begin helping you right away. Call Tapalian Law today at 401-552-5000, or reach us online.