Texting, talking on the phone, listening to music, among other actions while walking, can lead to potential accidents.

The Dangers of Distracted Walking in New JerseyYou’re walking downtown to meet a friend for lunch, scrolling through some photos you want to share when you hear the squeal of brakes and a loud horn honking beside you.  As you look up, startled, you see a young lady in her 2020 Honda Accord looking shocked.  Because you were looking down at your phone, you didn’t realize that the pedestrian signal was red and unsafe to cross.

Technology has changed our lives drastically and in what seems to be an instant.  We use GPS to see where we are going without getting lost.  Cell phones, smartwatches, and tablets keep us connected to the internet, sports, entertainment, and each other. We know that distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents, and recently, distracted walking has progressively become more prevalent as well.

New Jersey law orders all pedestrians to obey signs and traffic signals and use crosswalks.  Pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to cars when they are crossing at an unmarked part of the road.  Failure to do so could lead to a charge of jaywalking and a fine of $54.

What is Distracted Walking?

Distracted walking occurs when someone is walking and is unaware of what is going on around them.  The three major distractions named by experts are being on a phone call, texting or looking at the screen, or listening to music (or other audio) with headphones.  Another distraction less seen these days is having a one-on-one conversation with someone as the two people walk.

Why is Distracted Walking so Dangerous?

Across the nation, in the last 6 years, cases of distracted walking have more than doubled and deaths from distracted walking have gone up by 17%.  Distracted walkers cross streets more slowly, almost a full second longer according to a University of Georgia study that also found distracted pedestrians are almost 3 times as likely to participate in risky behavior such as not looking both ways, ignoring the stoplight or not using a marked crossing area.

Distracted pedestrians often assume that as long as they use the crosswalk, they are safe.  It is true that pedestrians have the right of way and drivers should stop for them, but that doesn’t always happen.  A distracted walker will not know the car hasn’t stopped and will be unable to try to get out of the way.  A reckless driver and a distracted walker are a dangerous combination.

What Possible Accidents can Occur due to Distracted Walkers?

There are several unpleasant scenarios that can result from the carelessness of a distracted pedestrian. If someone doesn’t see a large crack in the sidewalk or the curb that could cause a fall.  Walking into a sign or lamp post is painful. Stepping into an open pothole or grill is exceptionally dangerous, as is walking out in front of a car. Slipping on some snow or ice is a frequent cause of injury to distracted walkers. Distracted drivers hitting distracted pedestrians is the most dangerous incident as the pedestrian doesn’t have any protection against a moving, metal machine.

What are the Possible Injuries that Distracted Walkers Suffer in New Jersey?

Tripping and falling incidents typically cause twisted or broken ankles, elbows, wrists, and fingers and strained or torn knee or ankle ligaments.  So a large crack in the sidewalk or some slippery ice at the curb could cause months of recuperation, physical therapy, or even surgery. Walking into a lamp post or road sign can cause a concussion, contusion, skull fracture, epidural hematoma, and even knock out some of your teeth.  A possible fractured clavicle and bruised shoulder are common.  Stepping into a pothole or any other open space where someone can fall into the space under the street can cause a multitude of injuries which range from scrapes and bumps to serious injuries such as broken bones, head injuries, and more.  The accident that can cause the most damage is when a car hits a pedestrian.  Internal injuries, broken bones, head, and spinal injuries can all result from an accident of that type.

How Can I Stay Safe As a Pedestrian?

Keep a few of these tips in mind if you intend to walk on any of the roadways in New Jersey and want to prioritize your safety:

  1. Don’t jaywalk.  Only cross the roads at marked crosswalks.
  2. If you are going to cross the street, look left, then right, then left again. That extra second could make all of the difference.
  3. Walk on the sidewalk.
  4. Obey all of the traffic signals.
  5. Don’t assume the cars will stop. Try to make eye contact with the driver before crossing to make sure they see you and will stop.
  6. There are several apps that covert text to audio and voice to text to keep your hands free and your eyes focused on where you are walking.
  7. Distracted Walking and Personal Injury Attorneys in NJDon’t go out at night without a reflective vest or reflective clothing.
  8. Walk facing traffic.
  9. Don’t use your earphones or use them at a volume that allows you to still be aware of your surroundings.
  10. Prepare your playlist ahead of time so you don’t have to scroll through your phone while you are walking.
  11. Watch for cars that are turning.
  12. Never go out if impaired by alcohol or medications.

Have You Been Injured by someone who was distracted while walking? Contact our Hamilton Personal Injury Attorneys for help with your case.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a distracted pedestrian accident, seeking legal help as soon as possible is important.  New Jersey follows a no-fault insurance model for motor vehicle accidents, and pedestrians and jaywalkers are also included.  This model provides benefits for any injury from the accident.  However, there are a host of exceptions, and someone may file a personal injury claim to receive monetary compensation for their injuries.

At Cohen & Riechelson, our clients are our priority.  Our top-notch accident injury lawyers have the knowledge to help you with your case, whether you are a pedestrian or a driver involved in an accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in Hightstown, Hopewell, Pennington, Princeton, or any of the busy places around Mercer County, call our offices in New Jersey at 609-528-2596 to make an appointment or speak with an attorney for your free consultation.  You can also fill out our online form.  We look forward to helping you resolve your case as soon as possible.