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Distracted Walking Becomes a Deadly Problem

It has become more dangerous than ever to go for a walk in urban areas, and pedestrians themselves are partly to blame.

A report released earlier this year by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) estimates that 5,984 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. last year. That total is about the same as in 2016, which itself marked a 9 percent increase from 2015. In the past four years, pedestrian deaths have increased nearly 20 percent.

“People outside of cars are dying at levels we haven’t seen in 25 years,” said Richard Retting, director of safety for Sam Schwartz Consulting, which authored the report for GHSA.

Double the Distraction

Officials say smart phones are a main culprit. The combination of distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians is proving to be deadly. Some have suggested the need for laws against walking and texting, similar to laws that exist in many states against texting and driving.

"At some point in time, people both behind the wheel and walking in the street have to take responsibility for their behavior and put down the phone," Rebecca Lindland, a Kelley Blue Book auto analyst, told USA TODAY.

Some officials feel increased use of marijuana may be another factor contributing to the rise in pedestrian deaths. Pedestrian deaths increased more than 16 percent in the first six months of 2017 in the seven states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use and the District of Columbia. Deaths in other states fell 5.8 percent during the same time period.

Nighttime May Not Be the Right Time to Walk

It is important to note that nearly three-fourths of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety sites poor headlights as a potential factor for so many pedestrian accidents after sunset.

If you are injured in a pedestrian accident, or if a loved one is killed in a pedestrian accident, it may be possible to hold the driver of the vehicle responsible even if no criminal charges are filed. It is important to confer with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can review the facts of the case and recommend an effective course of action.

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