More than three million people have seen the infamous video of a woman texting on her cell phone while walking and then falling into a large water fountain in a Pennsylvania mall. Fortunately, the woman was not injured in the incident. But, similarly distracted pedestrians have suffered serious harm in other recent pedestrian accidents.
People in Alabama, California, New York and North Carolina have been killed because they did not hear approaching cars or trains when listening to music or talking on a cell phone while walking.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the first six months of 2010 saw an increase in the number of pedestrian deaths after four years of continuous decreases. Amid widespread efforts to stop distracted driving, "one thing we haven't done is remind people about how to be a safe walker," said a GHSA spokesman.
The GHSA spokesman went on to say that electronic distractions are a possible reason for the rise in pedestrian fatalities, but there is not enough information yet to make a definitive link. Because the increase may be temporary, the organization would like to have "two or three years of data before [recommending] significant action."
But others are not waiting for more news of pedestrian accidents before addressing the problem. New York State Senator Carl Kruger aims to make it illegal to use an electronic device while crossing a street; violators would be fined $100. Similar legislation has been introduced in Arkansas, California and Virginia. In Oregon, a ban on bicyclists using cell phones and mp3 players while biking is also being pursued.
As drivers' attention is pulled away from the road by cell phones, music, children and coffee, pedestrians need to be especially careful for their own safety. Sometimes, though, an accident happens despite a pedestrian's best efforts to avoid it. In cases where a pedestrian is fatally injured, the victim's family members may have a legal claim against the driver in a wrongful death lawsuit. If you have lost a loved one in a pedestrian or biking accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.