Distracted Drivers Are a Threat to Pedestrians: What You Need to Know as an Accident Victim

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.

Distracted drivers are a threat to pedestrians.A disturbing number of pedestrian deaths can be directly linked to driver distraction. Of the 6,200 fatalities reported in 2018, the CDC says at least 2,800 of those deaths involved a distracted driver. More than 400,000 pedestrians also suffered non-fatal injuries in distracted driving accidents that year. Let’s discuss this problem in more detail, look at what pedestrians can do to be safer, and talk about what to do if you become a victim.

Types of Distracted Driving

The CDC identifies three categories of distracted driving; manual, visual, and cognitive.

  • Manual distractions occur when the driver takes their hands off the wheel. Examples of manual distractions include texting, eating, drinking, grabbing paperwork, or petting an animal in the car.
  • Visual distractions occur when the driver takes their eyes off the road. Examples may include reading texts, looking at GPS directions, and looking at a passenger when speaking to them.
  • Cognitive distractions occur when something takes the driver’s mind off the road. Examples of cognitive distractions include talking on the phone (even hands-free), daydreaming, arguing with a passenger, etc. 

Note that certain activities may involve more than one of these distractions, making them even more dangerous. Texting while driving, for example, involves all three types of distractions. Consequently, the vast majority of distracted driving accidents happen when a driver is using a mobile device. 

The Increased Risks to Pedestrians

There are numerous studies that suggest that a distracted driver is at least as dangerous on the road as a drunk driver. But let’s look past the statistics at the heart of the problem as to why pedestrians are at greater risk.

When the driver is not paying attention, it increases the chance of an accident occurring. And when the driver is also distracted by something inside the car, it creates another hazard for pedestrians because they cannot see what is happening in the car, nor can they anticipate what the driver will do. 

Distracted driving accidents involving pedestrians can happen anywhere that pedestrians and motorists share the space—at intersections, parking lots, alongside roadways, etc. The injuries suffered by pedestrians in these accidents can be catastrophic because they have virtually no protection from the mass of metal hurtling at them. They may suffer broken bones, internal injuries, internal organ damage, and traumatic brain injuries. Fatal accidents are also a possibility.

Tips for Staying Safe

As a pedestrian, you face increased risks due to distracted driving. Here are some safety tips to help you minimize your chances of being injured in a distracted driving accident: 

  • Avoid being distracted yourself. Be aware of all vehicles around you every time you step into an intersection, parking lot, etc. Avoid texting, looking at your phone, or other distractions. The driver may not be aware of you, but you need to be aware of them. 
  • Stay in the crosswalks. Most pedestrian accidents occur when pedestrians are in unexpected places (e.g., crossing the road with no crosswalk). You’re more likely to be noticed by drivers when you are in the places drivers expect to see you.
  • Make every effort to be seen. Try to make eye contact with drivers. If they seem to be distracted, don’t cross in front of them. If you can’t catch their eye, assume they can’t see you. If you are walking at night, wear reflective clothing to alert drivers of your presence.

What to Do in a Pedestrian Accident

If you are hit by a vehicle, take the following steps as you are able:

  • Call 911 for emergency assistance.
  • Get medical attention, even if your injuries appear minor. (There may be internal injuries you don’t know about yet.)
  • Get the driver’s information—either at the scene (if you’re able) or via a police report afterward.
  • Contact a personal injury attorney. Many pedestrian injury accidents (if not most) involve some form of driver negligence. You may be eligible to recover damages to cover your medical expenses, costs of recovery, lost wages (present and future), and pain and suffering. 

At the Max Meyers Law, we understand the legal dynamics of pedestrian injuries in Washington State. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000.


 
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