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How Does Electronic Device Use Affect Pedestrian Safety

Although, it's difficult to quantify how electronic device use affects pedestrian safety. The sharp rise in reported pedestrian injuries over the past few years suggests a greater risk to pedestrians when either they or drivers are distracted by electronic devices.

According to NHTSA's early estimate of motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2021, pedestrian fatalities show an increase of about 13 percent compared to reported fatalities in 2020. An estimated 6,000 pedestrians die, and 85,000 suffer injuries each year nationally. During the last decade, pedestrian-vehicle collisions resulted in more than 60,000 fatalities and more than a million injuries.

The 2021 traffic safety report reveals that 125 Virginia pedestrians lost their lives, and 1325 suffered injuries in motor vehicle-pedestrian accidents last year. There will likely be more fatal pedestrian accidents in Virginia this year.

While driver distraction is a well-researched topic, distraction among pedestrians significantly contributes to pedestrian safety risk and often results in serious injury. Having worked with accident victims, we have witnessed many tragic results of distracted driving and walking. At Kalfus & Nachman, we want to make everyone aware of the risks of electronic device distraction and share the responsibility to keep Virginia streets safe.

Electronic Device Usage & Driver Distraction

Drivers are ignorant of the perils of utilizing electronic devices while operating a vehicle. It is a potential distraction and increases the risk of crashing. Distraction-affected accidents accounted for 8% of fatal crashes, 14% of injury crashes, and 13% of all police-reported traffic crashes in 2020. An estimated 350,000 people suffer injuries in auto accidents involving distracted drivers. Some of the common unsafe behaviors of drivers appearing to be manipulating electronic devices include:

  • Texting or messaging
  • Manually dialing numbers on a cell phone
  • Talking over the phone
  • Checking emails on smartphones
  • Surfing the internet on smartphones or tablets
  • Checking travel directions on GPS
  • Adjusting volume on stereos
  • Pressing buttons on the Dashboard

Motorists using electronic devices while driving are less likely to drive safely. It limits their peripheral vision, which affects their ability to manage vehicle speed, respond swiftly, and respond to warnings. As a result, they take longer to react when a pedestrian suddenly appears.

Electronic Device Usage & Pedestrian Distraction

Electronic device usage changes the way pedestrians interact with their environment. Distraction brought on by using devices like cell phones, earphones, headphones, earbuds, smart watches, and fitness trackers while walking results in more walking "errors" and a lower likelihood that the pedestrian will practice safe conduct. Pedestrian activities like texting, reading emails, and listening to music have similar effects to those experienced by distracted drivers. Some of the typical behavior exhibited by pedestrians using electronic devices include:

  • Altered Gait
  • Walked Slower
  • Held Their Head in a Severely Flexed Position
  • Deviated From the Straight-line Path
  • Took Shorter and More Frequent Strides

The advent of new technologies is good when it doesn't negatively affect the safety of its user. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information from emails, voicemails, social media notifications, ad texts, and telemarketing calls, it's easy to overlook devices designed to keep us safe while walking; like crosswalks, pedestrian signals, and pedestrian warning signs.

Although it may seem like a daunting task, we can actively work to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities and increase pedestrian safety by actively educating both walkers and drivers about what to look for, what to expect, and how to proceed.

October Is National Pedestrian Safety Month - 2022

During October's National Pedestrian Safety Month, Virginia state's traffic safety officials will focus on four themes in four weeks of October, adopting the Safe System Approach to encourage walking and create safer conditions for pedestrians in our communities. Here are the four key objectives of the Safe System Approach:

  • Week 1 - Safer People
  • Week 2 - Safer Speeds & Safe Roads
  • Week 3 - Safer Vehicles
  • Week 4 - Post Crash Care

Safe behavior by all road users is the key to pedestrian safety. It is vital to emphasize that drivers and pedestrians must avoid using electronic devices and continue to practice safe driving behaviors for the foreseeable future. Always be alert, remain engaged, and focus on the road ahead.

Safety Tips on Electronic Device Usage to Maintain Pedestrian Safety

Cognitive distraction from the use of electronic devices by drivers or pedestrians undermines pedestrian safety. Here are some tips on electronic device use while driving or walking:

For Motorists

  • Slow down and look for pedestrians.
  • Avoid using any electronic devices while you are driving.
  • Do not attempt to make calls, read/send texts, dm's, or emails while stopped at a traffic light.
  • Keep your electronic devices out of your reach to avoid the temptation of just checking them.
  • Let voicemail answer your calls when driving.
  • Plan your calls and texts for when you will be sure to be safely parked.

For Pedestrians

  • Never cross the street while texting or talking on the phone.
  • If talking or texting, stop on the sidewalk.
  • Never use an electronic device while crossing the street.
  • Avoid walking with headphones/earphones in your ears.
  • Curb the temptation to check social media accounts while walking.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings.

Legal Help You Deserve for Your Pedestrian Accident in Virginia

Pedestrian-vehicle collisions are devastating and may result in fatal injuries. If you or a loved one were injured as a pedestrian due to someone else's negligence in Virginia, you need strong legal representation on your side to be able to obtain the compensation you deserve.

Kalfus & Nachman's pedestrian accident lawyers are among the few top-rated personal injury attorneys in the state of Virginia who have established a reputation & credibility in the field of personal injury with their dedication and aggressive legal representation in the court. Call us for a free consultation today: 855-880-8163

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