Distracted Walking Causing Spike In Pedestrian Accidents

Distracted walking is on the rise in Washington and Oregon, meaning more fatal pedestrian accidents. In a study released this year by PEMCO Insurance, researchers found that more than half of respondents in Washington and Oregon (53 percent) use their cell phones to talk, text or read while walking.

Though distracted driving is more of a hot-button issue nationally -- which has sparked Washington’s new law banning the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving -- distracted walking can also be extremely dangerous. In just the past two years, pedestrian fatalities in the United States have increased by 22 percent, according to a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The relationship between drivers and pedestrians is complicated. According to drivers, nine in 10 say they witness distracted walkers that are not aware of their surroundings. Of those drivers, 77 percent say they are at least “a little” bothered by that behavior. Meanwhile, only 39 percent of pedestrians admit to being distracted while on sidewalks on in crosswalks at least sometimes while walking.

Who Is At Fault In A Pedestrian Accident?

Determining who is at fault in a pedestrian accident can be difficult. While sometimes it is obvious -- a pedestrian ignores a crosswalk sign or a driver fails to yield -- there are cases in which both parties share some of the blame. In cases where the driver is clearly at fault for the accident, the pedestrian typically can recover compensation, and the driver’s insurance provider likely won’t put up much of a fight.

However, when both share responsibility for the accident, the injured person’s compensation will be reduced by a percentage that is equal to their share of the fault. For example, if a pedestrian is distracted and talking on a cell phone while entering a crosswalk, even with a “Walk” signal, and is hit by a speeding driver, the pedestrian shares some of the blame. Staying alert and not using devices while driving or walking can help prevent such accidents.

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