In cities, parks, on rural streets and in the suburbs, it’s common to see a walker along the sidewalk or at an intersection looking down, even texting on a handheld device. While we have been warned of the dangers of distracted driving, another threat to safety is the danger of distracted walking. Hand-held devices that connect us by phone or Internet can be an overwhelming distraction. Nationwide, pedestrians and cyclists are known to have suffered serious and grave injuries because of distraction.
Even though walkers are not responsible for operating a vehicle, they can still create serious hazards when not paying attention. Inattentive walking can make a pedestrian blind to oncoming traffic, potholes, and other hazards that they would normally see as obvious risks. Statistics show that one in three people don’t put down their cell phones even to cross the street. Attention has been brought to the high risks of distracted walking to increase public awareness and prevent injury. Our Carolina accident attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of victims and to preventing future accidents and injuries.
Emergency room visits related to texting and walking, talking and walking, and Internet surfing and walking are on the rise. Recent research indicates that injuries have spiked since 2004. Many instances involve distracted walking into telephone poles or street signs, falling off of a road into a ditch, or walking into oncoming traffic. A significant number of these accidents were caused by a simple conversation, not because the walker was looking down and reading or writing a text. The number of similar accidents has doubled and has risen at about the same rates as distracted driving.
Studies indicate that there are probably additional cases that go unreported because the injuries are minor. Distracted walking can result in injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to serious head and neck injuries, paralysis, even wrongful death. A victim could suffer a significant fall, walk into an intersection or collide with a car or bicycle. Researchers believe that the number of accidents involving distracted walking are significant.
Public health professionals are urging for campaigns similar to those intended to reduce distracted driving. The downward trend for distracted driving has been attributed to the laws curbing the use of cell phones for drivers behind the wheel. Similarly, some advocates believe that lawmakers should restrict the use of cell phones when walking in public spaces. Though this would be difficult to regulate or monitor, it could show a decrease in the number of distracted walking accidents every year.
Victims may include not only the distracted walkers. A distracted walker or cyclist is also a hazard to others on the road. A wandering cell phone user could disrupt traffic, force a cyclist to swerve out of the way or interrupt roadside construction work. The variation of potential accidents is limitless and all cell phone users should be aware of these risks. If you were injured by a distracted walker, you may be entitled to significant compensation.