On a national level, pedestrian accidents resulting in serious injuries and fatalities are rapidly growing in frequency. Whether it be carelessness or something physically aiding in distracting those involved, vehicle accidents involving pedestrians yield a very high rate of serious injury or fatality. This can be largely attributed to the fact that pedestrians are much more vulnerable without the protection of a vehicle’s walls. However, the most important factor impacting pedestrian safety is awareness and attention to the environment.
Technology’s Role in Pedestrian Accidents
With advancements in technology often come drawbacks that are only truly clear to us once they are in hindsight. And because today’s average consumer has no shortage of options for being entertained, the risks ofaccidents involving pedestrians continue to add up.
“[Pedestrians] are listening to music, talking on cellphones, using Blackberries [sic] and texting messages,” explains the Pedestrian Safety Committee of the Council for Court Excellence (CCE), a civic group aimed at improving the administration of justice in Washington, D.C. “But walkers using electronics are still bumping, slipping, falling and harming themselves through inattention.”
This statement from the CCE comes in response to a study recently published by Baltimore’s University of Maryland, which found that the number of deaths or serious injuries in pedestrians wearing headphones increased more than threefold from 2004-2011.
“Everybody is aware of the risk of cell phones and texting in automobiles, but I see more and more teens distracted with the latest devices and headphones in their ears,” says Richard Lichenstein of the University of Maryland. “Unfortunately as we make more and more enticing devices, the risk of injury from distraction and blocking out other sounds increases.”
Response from the Experts
Perhaps one of the most popular incidents involving a pedestrian’s death is the case of a Maryland teenager who was hit and killed by a train while he was crossing the railroad tracks.
And the reason for his death? The teen was wearing noise-reducing headphones and couldn’t hear the horn when it sounded.
Lichenstein claims this particular case sparked his initial interest in a study on the topic of distracted pedestrians and serious injuries or fatalities.
“As a pediatric emergency physician and someone interested in safety and prevention, I saw this as an opportunity to – at minimum – alert parents of teens and young adults of the potential risk of wearing headphones while moving vehicles are present,” he added.
The response to these tragedies doesn’t stop at the University of Maryland’s study, however. In an attempt to regulate the risk of pedestrian accidents, the CCE is making a strong push for the D.C. government to consider instating a fine for pedestrians using electronic devices while crossing the street. In New York, a similar legislation that would impose a $100 fine for such violations has already been proposed.
Do you think these strategies could effectively improve pedestrian safety and reduce the frequency of accidents in which a pedestrian is seriously injured or killed? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.