Cell Phones: Mobile Device or Mobile Distraction

June 16th, 2016 by Attorney John Colvin

Distracted Walking

The hazards of distraction behind the wheel are well documented and much discussed, yet it seems like every single day we learn about more instances in which drivers caused wrecks while using their mobile devices.

This is exactly the case in Georgia, where news recently broke about a teenage driver facing multiple charges and a lawsuit after causing a crash while using Snapchat. The 19-year-old girl was using what is known as a speed filter, a feature of the mobile app that records the speed of motion of the image being captured. While using her mobile phone, she rear-ended another driver, leaving the victim in a coma and with permanent brain damage.

This story is horrific but, unfortunately, all too common. For all of the safety awareness campaigns and never-ending stream of headlines about these sorts of accidents, it seems like so many drivers just aren’t getting the message.  AAA recently reported findings of a new study that found distraction was a factor in 60 percent of accidents caused by teen drivers.

It turns out that teens are not just talking or texting on their cell phones while driving. They are FaceTiming and using social media apps, too. AAA has dubbed the summer driving season as the “100 Deadliest Days,” due to the fact that we see a 16 percent increase in the number of road fatalities in these types of accidents during this time period.

While drivers are constantly reminded of the fact that distraction behind the wheel is so hazardous, it is becoming clear that drivers aren’t the only ones who need to be reminded of the dangers of distraction.

As it turns out, pedestrians distracted by their phones can also be a danger, both to themselves and to others. Just as those behind the wheel may have their attention diverted by cell phones, so can those crossing roads or walking down the streets. It’s for this reason that safety awareness is increasingly aimed at distracted pedestrians.

Why Distracted Walking Awareness is So Important

In Tennessee, pedestrian deaths are the highest they’ve been in 20 years. In fact, 10 percent of all roadway fatalities in Tennessee now involve people outside of vehicles. It is true that many of these accidents occur on roadways, but that isn’t the whole story.

It has been estimated that over half of all cell phone distracted walking injuries actually happen at home, and nearly 80 percent of those are due to falls. These statistics highlight the fact that distracted walking is dangerous in so many different settings.

Tips For Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents

The National Highway Safety Administration and the National Safety Council provide some great tips for eliminating distracted walking. Here are just a few tips that we can all observe:

  • Always look both ways before crossing a street.
  • Make eye contact with the driver before walking in front of a vehicle so you can be sure that they see you.
  • Be aware of a vehicle’s blind spots.
  • Don’t wear headphones while walking.
  • Put away mobile phones and other electronic devices while walking.
  • Never take for granted that a vehicle will stop on your behalf.
  • Never let a child cross the street unattended.
  • Don’t cross the street unless there is a designated crosswalk.
  • Wear bright clothing or reflective clothes, especially if walking at night.
  • Walk in groups if possible.

How Other States Are Addressing The Problem

Other states, such as New Jersey, have considered legislation that would make walking while using electronic devices a violation, with fines of $50, 15 days of imprisonment, or both. Although there are people on both sides of the legislation, there seems to be a consensus that people need to be made aware of the issue rather than taking for granted that nothing will happen to them if they continue to walk while using their mobile devices.

Until legislation is passed dealing with this issue, it will be up to us to be as safe as possible. To reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted walking in our own homes, we have an even greater responsibility to increase safety awareness. Falls cause very serious personal injuries, including broken bones, brain injuries and spinal cord damage.

A good rule of thumb? If you’re in transit – whether driving or walking – put down the phone. This will make you safer both in your own home and out on the street.

John R. Colvin, Attorney at Law, has successfully represented injured clients throughout Tennessee and Alabama who have suffered serious injuries. For 20 years, he has been helping victims put their lives back on track, and he is ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next or if you have any questions about this topic, call 931-962-1044 or submit this online form. Put his bold approach and client focus to work for you.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama