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Are Distracted Walking Laws Effective?

The majority of people understand how dangerous texting and driving is, but what many people don’t realize is that texting and walking can be just as deadly. The number of pedestrians who are killed each year continues to rise approximately 10 to 12 percent each year, with approximately 6,000 pedestrians killed annually.

 Multiple studies have shown that one of the major causes of this increase is that too many pedestrians are focused on the cell phones instead of what is taking place around them. Distracted walking has become such a serious issue that at least one major U.S. city had enacted laws against it.

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Last month, Honolulu became the first major city to enact legislation that makes it a violation for people to look at their phones while they are walking. If a member of law enforcement sees a pedestrian looking at their phone instead of what is around them, they can stop the pedestrian and issue a violation.

Although Honolulu is the first major city to pass such a law, there have been smaller municipalities that have addressed the issue, such as Rexburg, Idaho. In 2011, after five people were killed in pedestrian accidents in a short time period, the city enacted a ban on distracted walking. People are allowed to talk on their cell phones as they are walking, but not any other types of messaging. Since the ban went into effect, there haven’t been any other pedestrians killed.

Are Distracted Walking Laws the Answer?

Not all safety advocates agree that these types of law are the answer and question whether they give people a false sense security. Many advocates point out that the major issue in the number of pedestrian accidents has to do with poor road designs. They also point to driver speed and the use of safety equipment on vehicles, like softer bumpers, as issues that should be addressed.

Some European countries have tried some unique approaches to address the problem. In the Netherlands and Germany, some towns have embedded LED-illuminated strips in crosswalks located at busy intersections. These lights are right in the line of sight of a person who is looking down staring at their phone. The color of the lights changes along with the traffic lights from red to green, alerting pedestrians when it is safe to cross.

Contact a Carolinas Car Accident Attorney

Unfortunately, no matter how safe of a pedestrian we may be, there are too many vehicle drivers who engage in unsafe driving behaviors, putting us at risk. If you were injured by a vehicle as you were walking, contact a North Carolina pedestrian accident attorney to find out what legal recourse you may against the driver who hit you.

Randall E. Appleton
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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