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Smartphones, Drugs and Sidewalks; A Pedestrian Death Trifecta?

Did you know that the US has the highest vehicle death rate of any high-income country?

That fact shocked me to read this morning in the New York Times article “There has been one major change in driver behavior: the use of smartphones” .The US rate is more than double the rate of other developed countries, five times higher than Britain! Despite all the technological and medical advancements, the US still struggles with the issue of driving fatalities.

One of the main reasons for the high US vehicle death rate is the rise of smartphone usage while driving. In today’s fast-paced world, smartphones have become an inseparable part of our lives, and their use has increased exponentially over the years. However, this trend has brought a significant concern with it; the use of phones while driving, or even while walking on a road. The convenience of staying connected to the digital world is leading to more and more drivers and pedestrians becoming distracted on the road. Unfortunately, the consequences of such behavior are severe, and one of the most tangible effects is the rising number of pedestrian personal injuries and deaths. It is crucial that individuals understand the dangers of this habit and learn to control their urges to check their phones while driving to prevent any further pedestrian tragedies.

Marijuana and other drugs are playing a part in pedestrian personal injuries and deaths. As we try to understand the root causes of the increase in pedestrian fatalities, several possible contributing factors have come to light. One of them is the legalization of marijuana in more and more states. Some studies have linked the use of marijuana to impaired driving, which is translating into more accidents with pedestrians. Another factor is the ongoing opioid epidemic, which has increased addiction rates and impaired the judgment of some drivers and even for pedestrians walking on roads and utilizing crosswalks.

The Lack of sidewalks and safe walking paths is a contributor too. The population growth in areas of the south without adequate pedestrian infrastructure has also played a role in making walking more dangerous. Safe sidewalks are not mandatory in many areas, with some cities lacking provisions even for those with disabilities. Not having a safe way to walk to work or to get groceries and other needs is needlessly increasing pedestrian personal injuries and deaths, especially in the evening hours when something like 3 in 4 pedestrian deaths occur. For more on the nighttime phenomenon, check out the NYT article “Why So Many Pedestrians in the U.S. Are Dying at Night

All of these issues are complex and require multifaceted solutions to address them effectively. Despite technological advancements and potential solutions available, the US has been slow to adopt. For example, Traffic cameras have been implemented in other countries, which identify and call out distracted drivers. However, some US politicians have argued against these measures, citing the potential for invasion of privacy.

Current data shows that the US has a consistently high vehicle death rate, with 2021 seeing an uptick in hit-and-run cases leading to fatalities. Such incidents emphasize the importance of addressing this issue, as both drivers and pedestrians alike are at risk. Without immediate action, this alarming rate of vehicle deaths and pedestrian personal injuries and deaths could continue to rise.

While there are potential solutions available, the US has yet to implement many of these measures. This becomes even more critical if we consider the rising rates of substance addiction and the proliferation of new technology. Fortunately, there are strategies we can adopt to ensure safe driving habits. By taking concrete steps like making sidewalks mandatory in all areas, imposing traffic cameras and harsher penalties for distracted drivers, the US can work towards reducing the rates of vehicle deaths and create safer roads for everyone.

As an attorney, you can do your part by pushing for increased awareness of the injuries and deaths sustained by clients and pushing for justice in the court systems for the victims of distracted driving. In many of these cases, who is at fault? Is it only the driver or does the municipality share some of the blame for not providing safe pedestrian access?

Contact us at HMR for any funding needs you may have in representing injured pedestrians. We have 3 types of funding to help with your toughest personal injury cases.

Last Updated: December 11, 2023