Smartphones have become an important aspect of our society and have connected us in ways that would have seemed impossible less than one decade ago. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, more than 64 percent of Americans own smartphones. However, these handheld computers have been the cause of hundreds of thousands of distracted driving accidents.
Recent news reports suggest smartphones can also be risky to use while walking. For example, a San Diego man accidentally walked off a cliff while using his smartphone. Other distracted walking accidents occur in homes, where people are injured by falling down staircases. In other parts of the U.S., pedestrians using their smartphones are being hit by vehicles. Some of these accidents have resulted in catastrophic injuries and deaths.
These accidents have also been increasing in frequency each year. In 2000, there were 500 distracted walking accidents. By 2011, there were over 2,000. According to the CEO of the National Safety Council the majority of distracted walking accidents involve sprains and concussions.
Are Pedestrians or Motorists to Blame for Distracted Walking Accidents?
Many news organizations and blogs have been quick to blame pedestrians for these accidents when vehicles are involved. But is that fair? Should the burden of responsibility not fall upon motorists who are operating fast-moving vehicles that weigh in excess of 1,000 pounds? These are difficult questions to answer because distracted pedestrians can also cause car accidents, injuring motorists.
For example, imagine a pedestrian changing songs on his or her smartphone walking across the street. A nearby motorist does not see this person in time and slams the brakes, causing a rear-end accident when drivers behind them cannot react quickly enough to stop. In other words, who is at fault depends on the situation.
We all have a responsibility to promote a safe environment. Texting and driving, or using smartphones while walking, can only help create situations where people can be injured or killed.