With traffic fatalities soaring to levels not seen in more than 50 years, distracted drivers – mainly motorists with smartphones – have grabbed many of the traffic safety headlines lately. But another threat that all people should be aware of is the correlating rise in distracted pedestrian fatalities.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Safety Research, “Ambulatory cellphone injuries in the United States: An emerging national concern” found that the number of distracted-pedestrian accidents increased gradually from 2000 to 2011.
The study did not focus on how many of those distracted walking accidents involved motor vehicles, but Ken Kolosh, head of the National Safety Council’s statistics department, told Automotive Fleet that those numbers “give us a clue that more and more, in our daily lives, we are distracted walking in our homes and public places.”
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 1,500 pedestrians were treated for distracted-walking-related injuries in 2012 – more than twice the number reported in 2015.
While no major national studies have determined how many distracted pedestrians have been killed in vehicle-related accidents, a number of state reports provide some clues. According to Automotive Fleet:
“Last year, Colorado reported that pedestrian deaths reached a 15-year high of 84, according to the Denver Post. Meanwhile, the number of pedestrian deaths in Minnesota last year reached a 25-year high with 60, according to a recent report from the StarTribune. Further still, amNewYork, a Manhattan, N.Y.-based newspaper, reported that pedestrian fatalities in New York City also rose in 2016.”
“We know distracted driving is increasing, and we have pretty good evidence that distracted walking is increasing,” Mr. Kolosh told Automotive Fleet. “Everyone is pretty concerned that distraction from both the driver and the pedestrian is contributing to this huge increase with overall pedestrian deaths.”
What this means for truck drivers and other motorists is to be wary of speed limits, especially in areas where pedestrians are common, such as city streets and neighborhoods. A pedestrian who is hit by a vehicle traveling 23 mph has a 25 percent risk of severe injury and a 10 percent chance of death, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
A pedestrian hit by a vehicle moving twice that speed has a 90 percent chance of severe injury and a 75 percent chance of death, AAA reported.
Source: Automotive Fleet