Distracted Pedestrians Often Walk into Danger

Thursday October 27, 2011

People who think they can drive while using a mobile device may be in a for a surprise-a new study by the director of the Birmingham University of Alabama Youth Safety Laboratory reveals that many people can’t even walk and stay “connected” without putting themselves in danger.

The study determined that pedestrians who used mobile devices while crossing intersections were more likely to be hit by cars, and that listening to music provided the greatest distraction.

The study tested 125 students in a “virtual environment lab that simulated cars moving in multiple directions.” The students were required to cross a two-lane street with cars traveling at 30 mph, under different sets of circumstances, including “without any distractions; while texting; while talking on a cellphone; and while listening to music with earphones.”

The risk of an accident increased with different distractions, from six percent without any distractions, all the way up to 33 percent while listening to music on headsets. One possible reason for the risk increase while listening to music-which studies suggest is not a dangerous distraction while driving a car-may be due to the fact that when the walker is listening to music, he is not listening for the traffic sounds. The study director believes that perhaps hearing is a sense that pedestrians use more than was previously realized.

If a pedestrian is struck because of being distracted and causes the accident, even though he is the one injured, he could be liable for the entire accident. Additionally, in car crash cases where the injured party was speaking on a cellphone during the crash, distracted pedestrians are sometimes found to be at fault or to have at least contributed to the accident and are held partially liable. Due to the fact that the liable party is the one who pays for the accident, it may be a good idea to forgo the headphones and cellphones while walking as well as driving.

Because the issue of fault is so deeply complex in cases involving distraction, pedestrians and motorists alike should seek the advice of an experienced attorney if injured in an accident.

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