Distracted Pedestrians: Whose at fault in an accident?

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It seems obvious. Pedestrians who talk or text on their phone are less cautious and walk more slowly than undistracted walkers.

But the actual numbers are staggering. Researchers in a study published in the journal, Injury Prevention, monitored 1,102 walkers at 20 different intersections in Seattle, Wash. They found that one out of every three people used their phones to talk, listen to music or text while they crossed the street.

Music listeners walked slightly faster than undistracted pedestrians, which seems contradictory at first. But if you think about it, those listening to music aren't focusing on some other physical distraction, They're just walking ahead so it makes sense. Those sending text messages took 18% longer to cross the street. Obviously, the longer you are on the street the longer you are at risk of being hit by a vehicle or bicycle.

The most alarming statistic is those sending text messages were nearly four times more likely to disobey traffic signals, cross mid-intersection, or walk without looking both ways. That is just asking for an accident to happen to you. Women were twice as likely as men to exhibit at least one unsafe road crossing behavior.

According to a nationwide study, in 2010 over 1,500 pedestrians on cell phones were treated in emergency rooms. This number is double what it was before 2005, and I'm sure is lower than what it is today with the explosion in smart phone usage.

Combine these numbers, with the number of drivers who are distracted, and you have a very dangerous situation. Maybe Google's driver less cars aren't such a bad idea.

So whose at fault for an accident with a distracted pedestrian in San Diego?

This still comes down to, whose actions caused the accident. Were you jaywalking while talking on  your cell phone? Did the driver have enough time to see you and avoid you? Were you distracted, but following all of the rules of the road, walking at a normal pace along with other pedestrians?

These are all questions to be asked when determining who is at fault during an accident. There isn't a clear answer without looking at the specific facts of your accident. If your actions did not contribute to the accident, you aren't at fault. If your actions contributed to the accident, it is possible you will be found partially at fault for the accident and your injuries. This can reduce your settlement or award.

Put the phone down.

The best advice of course is to put the phone down. Whether you are walking, or driving, your mind can only focus on one thing at a time. That "thing" should be your safety.

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