• Can Distracted Walking Result in Pedestrian Accidents?

    Can Distracted Walking Result in Pedestrian Accidents?

    We often hear about the dangers of distracted driving, but can distracted walking also result in serious pedestrian accidents and motor vehicle collisions? A recent article in Curbed discusses a new study on distracted walking conducted by researchers at Northern Arizona University. While the study focused on pedestrian behaviors in New York City and Flagstaff, Arizona, its findings can easily be used to consider pedestrian safety in Fairfax, Manassas, and other Washington, D.C. suburbs in Virginia.

    In short, the study suggests that distracted pedestrians cause crashes far less frequently than distracted drivers. As such, pedestrian accident prevention efforts in urban and suburban areas should spend more time focusing on the behavior of motorists in cars instead of pedestrians who may be texting or talking on a cell phone.

    What is Distracted Walking, and Why Should You Know About It? 

    Distracted walking is a term to refer to pedestrian behaviors that lead to those pedestrians being distracted from the task of walking. The term is linked to distracted driving, which refers to motorists who are distracted from the task of driving by, for example, texting or talking on a phone. Examples of distracted walking can include, for instance, talking or texting on a phone, listening to music through headphones, or even eating while walking.

    As the article points out, pedestrian deaths in the U.S. are higher than they have been in three decades. This fact has led many different officials in both urban and suburban regions of the U.S. to institute pedestrian safety campaigns that focus on accident prevention. In many of these campaigns, city officials intimate that distracted walking is a major cause of auto collisions, and that pedestrians could avoid an accident if they were to “put down their phones and pay more attention.” However, as the recent study contends, “compelling new research reveals that pedestrians probably aren’t texting themselves to death.”

    Majority of Pedestrians Do Not Exhibit “Distracted Walking” Behavior

    In short, the authors of the study argue that a focus on distracted walking has been a tactic designed to shift the blame from motorists who are engaged in distracted, aggressive, and otherwise negligent driving behaviors. To be sure, the authors of the study found little research proving that walking while talking on a phone, or walking while texting on a smart phone, was a significant cause of collisions. Indeed, a majority of pedestrians do not show signs of distracted behavior while they are on foot. In order to draw their conclusions, the researchers looked at more than 3,000 pedestrians’ behaviors.

    Examining a total of 3,038 walkers and their crosswalk use in Flagstaff and New York City, the researchers reported that 86.5 percent of those pedestrians “did not exhibit distracted behavior.” Even when they determined that pedestrians did exhibit distracted behavior, such as texting while walking, few of them engaged in any actions that “might make a crash more likely.” As such, the researchers concluded that penalizing pedestrians for distracted walking may be unlikely to prevent pedestrian accidents.

    Contact a Manassas Pedestrian Accident Attorney

    Were you injured in a collision with a motor vehicle? An experienced Manassas pedestrian accident lawyer can help with your case. Contact Leary Porter Law to speak with a personal injury attorney at our firm.

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