Distracted walking is in the news as the nation grapples with significant increases in the number of serious and fatal pedestrian accidents.
Unfortunately, Florida is all too familiar with the crisis, as the Sunshine State leads the nation in the number of walkers who are injured or killed each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 5,000 deaths and 76,000 injuries caused by pedestrian accidents each year; that’s one death every two hours. And, as the Miami Herald reported recently, 9 of the 20 deadliest cities for pedestrians are located in Florida.
Fort Myers injury lawyers know the increased risks faced by walkers are attributable to a number of factors, including lack of proper infrastructure such as sidewalks and street lights, distraction on the part of both the walker and drivers, and the growing prevalence of electric or otherwise silent vehicles.
A study published in 2012 by researchers from New York’s Stony Brook University found that those who texted while walking were 60 percent more likely to veer off course. Headphones are another growing problem. F.S. 316.304 prohibits drivers from wearing headphones, although no such law exists for pedestrian or cyclists.
But, while it’s true distracted walking can increase accident risks, the issue of distracted walking is also being pushed by the insurance industry as a way to reduce the liability of insured drivers for collisions that typically result in very serious or fatal injuries.