You’ve heard that distracted driving is dangerous and against the law. What about distracted walking?
When a pedestrian is too distracted to walk safely, they’re a danger to themselves and everyone else nearby. Oblivious pedestrians sometimes trip over curbs, stumble on stairs, walk into glass doors, bump into cars, or even walk straight out into heavy traffic!
Distracted walking is a very real threat to safe streets in California. Whether you’re a pedestrian or a motorist, there are some important things you should know about sharing the roads.
What is Distracted Walking?
Distracted walking is traveling on foot while inattentive to the path in front of you. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, some people on wheels are also considered pedestrians, like roller skaters, rollerbladers, skaters, and wheelchair users.
A distracted walking accident happens when a pedestrian isn’t paying attention and does something dangerous. This brings them into direct contact with a motorist, cyclist, scooter rider, or someone else who is using a roadway, crosswalk, sidewalk, trail, or another type of shared traveling path.
Strictly speaking, distracted walking isn’t always a crime. You can listen to music or chat with a friend while you walk, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the legal flow of traffic or create dangers to other people. But someone who is too distracted to walk safely and causes an accident can be cited for a violation and/or held legally liable for an accident.
A Dramatic Increase in Distracted Walking Incidents
Just as there has been a sharp rise in distracted driving across the nation in the past decade, distracted walking has been on the rise, too. Texting while walking, also known as “twalking” didn’t really exist until the invention of smartphones.
Cell phones are a dangerous distraction for pedestrians, especially near street traffic. A walker’s eyes should be forward on the path ahead instead of looking down, but cell phones are addictive. There’s always another text, another social media message, and another “ping ping ping” to distract you.
One of the world’s only major studies on texting and walking attributed hundreds of emergency room visits to distracted walkers in big cities like New York City and Baltimore. It’s not hard to imagine that the same effect is happening in California’s cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Of course, cell phones aren’t the only cause of distracted walking. A pedestrian can be just as distracted by walking their dog, chatting with friends, putting on makeup, or just getting lost in thought as they cross the street.
How to Avoid Pedestrian vs. Vehicle Collisions
Avoid distracted walking incidents by knowing the law and staying alert. Pedestrians don’t automatically have the right of way in all situations, but they do have the right of way while walking in marked and unmarked crosswalks.
- Allow five feet of safe crossing space between a vehicle and pedestrian.
- Drivers should always stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and crossing at corners.
- Drivers and pedestrians should attempt to make eye contact before the pedestrian crosses.
- Never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk.
- Allow extra crossing time for seniors, people with disabilities, and young children.
- Keep in mind that some pedestrians are blind or have other mobility concerns.
- Don’t come to a complete stop inside a crosswalk or block the traffic flow.
In Los Angeles and San Francisco, pedestrians may want to avoid certain congested areas and travel through new pedestrian-friendly zones. To stay as safe as possible, walk without using devices, headphones, or earbuds that impede your vision or hearing.
After a pedestrian accident, don’t assume you know which laws apply to your situation. Pedestrian laws are confusing and are constantly evolving in California. Reach out to the team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers for a compassionate approach to pedestrians’ rights and a case analysis from an experienced California pedestrian accident lawyer.
We Handle Your Accident Claim So You Can Focus On Your Life
If distracted walking plays a role in your accident, please contact the attorney team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of personal injury law, including distracted walking and pedestrian accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details. Call 877-380-8852 today for a free case evaluation.