In 2017, roughly 6,000 pedestrians died in automobile crashes, a figure that is up about 9% from the two previous years, according to a recent article in USA Today. A primary reason for the upswing in these fatalities is attributable to distractions, both inside and outside of the vehicle. Experts quoted in the article link the proliferation of technology, such as touch screens and smartphones, with increased distracted walking and driving, which in turn results in more pedestrian crashes and deaths.
Alabama is one of 46 states to have a direct law prohibiting texting while driving, but do lawmakers need to consider a prohibition on texting while walking? According to the article, distracted pedestrians are just as much to blame for the crashes as drivers are. The small city of Montclair, California passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of a cell phone or headphones while crossing the street. Honolulu, Hawaii has a similar ordinance in place for pedestrians as well. You can find a lot of other useful and interesting information on distracted pedestrians from our previous blog piece, here and general information on pedestrian accidents.
The USA Today article also lists some other interesting statistics regarding pedestrian/auto accidents, including that 75% of pedestrian crashes occur at night, and, in states, where marijuana recently became recreationally legal, pedestrian deaths spiked 16.4% from the year previous, while all other states’ deaths decreased on average of about 6%.
Scientific studies are starting to show that many people, predominately teens, are becoming addicted to cellphone use and that this addiction can change your brain negatively just like any addictive illegal drug. So, what can be done? Ironically, there are many tech advances that can actually assist with curbing cellphone use while walking or driving. Here is a list of internet apps that can help keep people off of their phones at certain times, and even one that “rewards” you with discounts depending on your driving habits without a cellphone.
No text is worth your life or the life of anyone else. Please keep your cell phone in your pocket when you are driving or walking, and let’s hope for some improved statistics in 2018.