Should Alabama Ban Phone Use at Intersections to Reduce Pedestrian Accidents?

February 28, 2018 Pedestrian Safety
Woman Using Mobile Device While Walking Across The Street

It seems as though almost everyone is guilty of texting and walking. With your face glued to the bright screen of your phone, distraction comes easy. Likely, you know the consequences of distracted walking, as videos of people stepping into a busy intersection or falling into a construction zone while texting have become popular on YouTube. Yet, walking while texting is a serious issue.

Unlike passengers who have seat belts and the frame of a car to protect them, pedestrians are 1.5x more likely to be killed in a vehicle accident than the occupants of a car. According to NPR, about 6,000 pedestrians died from auto-related accidents in 2016, which represents the biggest increase in traffic fatalities in nearly 20 years.

Speeding and failure to yield are the top two causes of pedestrian deaths. The third leading cause is distractions. With pedestrian fatalities on the rise, it seems as though there is a strong correlation between pedestrian phone use and vehicle accidents.

Making Distracted Walking Illegal

Lawmakers in Montclair City in California noticed this trend, and they recently banned crossing the street while using phones. The law doesn’t just apply to texting, but also prohibits talking on the phone or listening to music with headphones, which can be distracting. The exception to the law is calling 911 in the event of an emergency.

However, Montclair City is not the pioneer of this trend as lawmakers in Honolulu, Hawaii, were the first in the nation to implement a distracted walking law in October of 2017.

Since pedestrian accidents are a national issue, should more cities mirror Honolulu and Montclair in regards to enforcing distracted walking and texting laws?

How Common Are Pedestrian Accidents in Alabama?

In Alabama, there were 96 pedestrian deaths in 2015. The number increased to 111 pedestrian fatalities in 2016. It is tragic to think of all of the lives that were lost, and all of the families and friends who were impacted

According to Safe Home Alabama, a number of factors could be responsible for the increase in pedestrian fatalities.

One is that more and more residents are choosing to walk to their destinations over driving to save money and improve their health. Yet, the organization acknowledges that the increase in smartphone usage plays a pivotal role in pedestrian fatalities.

David Brown, research affiliate for the Center for Advanced Public Safety (CAPS), stated that using earphones and talking on the phone can be incredibly distracting, but the most dangerous distractor is texting.

As approximately 77% of Americans own a smartphone in the U.S. and 81% of Americans text regularly, it’s not surprising that a growing number of pedestrians must be distracted while walking.

Age Groups with Higher Pedestrian Accident Risks

Certain age groups are more vulnerable to pedestrian accident injuries and fatalities. It’s important to educate yourself, family members and friends to help ensure everyone is more aware and safe when walking.

  • Teenagers and young adult pedestrians from 15 to 29-years old are more likely to be sent to the emergency room for crash-related injuries than any other age group
  • Pedestrians who are 65-years-old or older were involved in 19% of all pedestrian deaths and 13% of pedestrian injuries in 2015

While it is unknown whether cell phone use played a role in these tragic Alabama pedestrian accidents, it is important to take precautions as pedestrians to stay as safe as possible.

Simple Tips to Help Keep Pedestrians Safe

  • Avoid using your phone – Refrain from texting, listening to music or talking when crossing the street
  • Cross the street at designated crosswalks
  • Walk on sidewalks – If a sidewalk isn’t available, walk on the shoulder facing traffic
  • Wear reflective or bright clothing, especially when walking at night to make it easier for drivers to see you

Drivers and pedestrians alike need to be taking more precautions to help avoid accidents that cause serious injuries and fatalities.

While Alabama does not currently have a law in place about crossing intersections while using phones, hopefully the tips and alarming statistics will help Alabama pedestrians think before they cross the streets – and ultimately save lives.

If you or a loved one were pedestrians that were seriously injured in a car accident that was not your fault, call the experienced Alabama Pedestrian Accident Lawyers at Floyd Hunter at 334-523-8150 for a free consultation.