More pedestrians are being struck and killed in California and across the U.S., and traffic safety experts believe distraction is a top cause. Because of cellphones, there are more distracted drivers and pedestrians than ever before. However, experts place most of the blame on drivers as they are operating 4,000-pound vehicles that can easily injure or kill pedestrians.
Since 2009, pedestrian deaths have spiked 46 percent. While it’s difficult to definitively blame distracted driving for the increase in fatalities, experts believe that circumstantial evidence strongly supports the theory. For example, cellphone use jumped 236 percent between 2010 and 2016, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Meanwhile, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System found that cellphone-related U.S. emergency room visits increased 83.5 percent between 2007 (when the first Apple iPhone came on the market) and 2016. Vehicle infotainment systems may also be adding to the problem. Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently studied infotainment systems from 30 different vehicles and found they were all at least moderately distracting to drivers.
For years, traffic safety advocates have been begging people to stop using their cellphones while behind the wheel. However, studies show that strict law enforcement may be the best way to curb distracted driving. A 2013 study conducted in Gainesville, Fla., found that high-visibility enforcement of pedestrian safety rules led to a “statistically significant” decrease in pedestrian accidents.
A California resident injured in a pedestrian accident might have grounds to file a legal claim against the at-fault driver. For example, after reviewing the case, an attorney may recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.