“Multitasking.” Trying to do multiple things at once has been rightly criticized as a frequent cause of car accidents, with drivers attempting to do things like talking on the phone or sending texts or emails while mistakenly thinking that they can pay adequate attention to the road and to their surroundings at the same time. The problem has become serious enough that many states — including Ohio — have enacted distracted driving laws to make such diversions subject to penalties.
But are distracted drivers the only potential accidents waiting to happen? At least one study suggests that distracted pedestrians — particularly those who are engrossed in looking at their personal electronics while walking — are a serious problem in their own right.
Two common characteristics of distracted pedestrians (also known by their nickname, “dead walkers”) that make them dangerous to themselves and possibly to others are the tendency to stray in unpredictable directions while walking and to develop a case of “tunnel vision” that significantly reduces their ability to recognize safety threats around them. A recent study finds that pedestrians who are more focused on their smart phones, for example, are prone to veer off of their intended directional path by up to 60 percent; the same people will also experience a loss of peripheral vision of up to 90 percent.
In other words, if you are driving in proximity to pedestrians, there is a good chance that at least a few of them may be walking in a direction other than the one they think they are, and their awareness of their surroundings is close to nil. If one of them walks in front of your car when you are not expecting it, you could easily find yourself in a car-pedestrian accident.
Many times such accidents are almost reflexively seen as the fault of the car driver. But if you are involved in an accident with a “dead walker,” you may find yourself not only in need of affirmative defenses if you are sued, you may even have claims of your own if you are hurt in the accident or your vehicle is damaged. A personal injury attorney experienced with car accident cases can help you to protect yourself in these situations and to seek compensation if appropriate.
Source: New York Times, “Distracted Walkers Post Threat to Self and Others,” Jane E. Brody, Dec. 7, 2015