What are pedestrian distractions?
Pedestrian distractions are exactly what they sound like: anything that may distract a pedestrian from enforcing safety measures as they’re walking on the sidewalk. This usually takes the form of texting while walking, listening to music, engaging in conversation, etc.
There is a lot of contention surrounding the problems of distracted driving (and rightfully so!), but pedestrian distraction is an issue that is hardly ever talked about among the general masses. This is a problem because a significant portion of overall traffic deaths consisted of pedestrians.
According to the National Security Council, over 17% of all traffic deaths are pedestrians, with the elderly affected most by wrongful death accidents. And just in 2021, the NSC reported that approximately 8,984 pedestrians and another 7,388 have died due to traffic/non-traffic incidents and traffic crashes on public roads respectively.
The problem of pedestrian distraction cannot be quelled until the general public starts to do some self-reflection on their destructive behaviors. This is shown in the study commissioned by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
The AAOS found that U.S. adults in general do not see themselves as complicit to the issue of pedestrian distraction. As a matter of fact, the organization found disparities in the public’s perception of the issue versus the reality.
According to them, a measly 29% of responders have owned up to being complicit to the issue despite the researchers’ findings (source):
- 90% U.S. adults talkings on the phone while walking
- 88% of pedestrians walking while talking
- 88% of pedestrians listening to music while walking
- 85% using smartphones while walking
- 64% daydreaming while walking
While pedestrian accidents are often caused by an even bigger issue surrounding poor urban planning as well as the general public’s poor driving habits, it won’t hurt to instill some safety methods barring us from protecting ourselves on the road.
Some way or another, we take on the role of a pedestrian on the road. While there isn’t much we could do as an individual to change our city planning and driving behavior as a whole, we could alter our actions to optimize our safety in the streets.
Here are some ways you can avoid pedestrian distractions:
1. When avoiding pedestrian distractions, stay off your phone
Phone usage while walking endangers the safety of pedestrians. It pulls them out of focus from their environment cognitively and visually.
While using your phone, you’re essentially more focused on what you’re seeing on your screen as opposed to scoping out your surroundings. Your mind is also straying away from the task at hand. Instead, it’s concerning itself more with the things that you’re seeing on your phone.
This may put you in a precarious situation. It will be difficult to snap you in focus come time a car kareens towards you, or if you unwittingly walk across an intersection at a red light. Which is why when trying to avoid pedestrian distractions, you need to stay off your phone.
2. Avoiding pedestrian distractions by removing your headphones
Simultaneously walking while listening to music could potentially endanger your life. To optimize your safety, you will need each of your five senses activated to see if there’s any incoming danger. Having music blasted into your ears hinders this from happening.
With your music playing, the outside noise becomes muffled. This effectively tunes out any auditory signs of danger. If a car honks at you —possibly signaling you to watch out or to stop— you wouldn’t be able to protect yourself adequately at the moment.
For this reason, it’s extremely important for pedestrians to remove their headphones when they’re walking. At the very least, they should lower their volume as they’re listening to music so that they can still brace themselves for anything that may bring them harm.
3. Not multitasking while walking means you’re avoiding pedestrian distractions
In an interview with National Public Radio, Stanford University Psychology professor Dr. Clifford Nass shared his research which contends that multitasking may actually be counterproductive. Synthesizing his research with the problem of multitasking while walking, this specific act could very likely get pedestrians into trouble.
Dr. Clifford Nass suggests that since the brain is scattered and all over the place trying to simultaneously do multiple things, people tend to do the tasks at hand rather poorly. In a pedestrian’s case, they aren’t giving their 100% in walking, looking out for signs of danger, or anything that may possibly spare their lives from harm.
Which is why it’s advised for pedestrians to avoid pedestrian distractions entirely by focusing on walking.
4. Making eye contact with drivers will help in avoiding pedestrian distractions
Making eye contact with drivers aids in avoiding pedestrian distractions for a number of reasons. For one, it establishes visual confirmation with the driver especially if the pedestrian intends to cross the road.
It also acknowledges the driver’s presence as well as the pedestrian’s once that connection has been established. Essentially, making eye contact puts the driver and the pedestrian on the same page. Establishing this connection holds both parties accountable in keeping each other safe by willing the driver to stop driving, and letting the pedestrian pass by.
5. Avoiding pedestrian distractions by actively following traffic signals
Last but definitely not the least, one way people can avoid pedestrian distraction is by following traffic signals. The reasons are threefold:
One, it decreases instances of conflict between the pedestrian and the driver especially in busy urban areas where a lot of things are going on. A lot of the time, pedestrians could get easily distracted by everything that’s happening around them. But consistently following traffic signals, as opposed to acting out of turn, promotes predictable traffic behavior.
Closely following traffic signals also reduces risky behavior that may put them at risk of multiple fatal injuries, including Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury and worse — wrongful death.
The Problem With Placing Too Much Importance In Avoiding Pedestrian Distractions
While it is important for people on the sidewalk to avoid distractions, placing too much importance in the pedestrians’ individual actions may be a deterrent to lowering pedestrian fatalities. Such is the stance of the Vision Zero Network, an organization dedicated to advocating for better systems prioritizing road safety.
They cited a recent study published by Rutgers University, which found distracted walking to be a factor in only a small portion (5%-10%, and definitely less than 20%) of overall car crashes.
The organization then continues to urge the masses to shift their attention to the egregious urban planning of multiple U.S. metropolises, as well as the inconvenience of the public transportation system.
The Vision Zero Network makes some good points, but we still urge pedestrians to do their due diligence in avoiding pedestrian distractions. After all, we can simultaneously urge for change all while protecting ourselves on the road.
At the end of the day, it’s their life (and others’) on the line.
Call Omega Law Group
As the Vision Zero Network asserts, pedestrian fatalities are largely caused by factors outside a pedestrian’s control. Even though avoiding pedestrian distractions could optimize safety for people walking on the sidewalk, accidents could still happen.
And when it does, you need to call a personal injury law firm that is well-equipped to handle the complexities of a pedestrian accident case. You need to call Omega Law Group. With over millions of dollars accrued for their clients, the pedestrian expert fatalities of Omega Law Group are the best team to employ for your legal needs.
Omega Law Group’s team is brimming with award-winning attorneys who are highly-empathetic and highly-skilled. They will always prioritize the needs of pedestrian accident victims above all else, and it shows through their personalized client service.
The founding partners of the firm have been featured in several prestigious publications in the likes of the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Business Journal.
For the latter publication, the founding partners have made headlines for their integration of Artificial Intelligence to streamline their caseload. Omega Law Group has also been heralded as one of the “Most Admired Firms” by the Business Journal thereafter.
Despite the accolades and accomplishments, the firm stays true to its endeavor to provide quality and equitable legal services to those who need it. In order to fulfill their mission, they continue to provide services for their clients on a contingency-fee basis. This allows them to not have to pay for legal fees upfront.
Schedule a free consultation with our elite legal team to learn more!