Perhaps you’ve seen it on YouTube or on the evening. A woman falls into a mall fountain while completely engrossed in a text message. That indelible image is a comical reminder that pedestrians must be aware of their surroundings. This is especially important if they are distracted by headphones, whether they are connected to cell phones or mp3 devices, like iPods.While the woman in the video clip may have only suffered from a bruised ego, many unassuming pedestrians lose their lives after being struck by cars, trucks and other vehicles. A study on pedestrian injuries conducted at the University of Maryland found a striking correlation between pedestrian accidents and headphone use.Study Reveals Pedestrian Distraction Creating More Hazards on RoadsResearchers combed through databases at the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, news articles and archived Google news stories between 2004 and 2011. Initially they were looking for insight into pedestrian accidents. What they found surprised them.Researchers found 116 instances of pedestrians either dying or being injured because they were wearing headphones. 81 of these accidents were ultimately fatal to the pedestrian involved. A large majority of accident victims were men under the age of 30, while nearly all the accidents occurred in urban areas.Slightly more than half of the accidents – 55 percent – involved trains. In some cases, the train or car even blew its horn, but the pedestrian did not hear it. Moreover, researchers found that the number of pedestrian injuries tripled over the course of their study. The rise in the number of pedestrian accidents was directly attributable to headphone use.These findings are especially important in San Francisco, where there is a high number of pedestrian traffic in tourist venues such as Union Square, AT&T Park and the Metreon. Combine that with the high number of red-light violations, and it is no wonder that walking in San Francisco can be hazardous. According to a 2011 report by tourism advocacy group Transportation For America, pedestrians make up just over half (51.9 percent) of all traffic related deaths in the city, which is four times the national average.
Vast Majority of Pedestrians Still Killed by Cars
Nevertheless, pedestrians must be vigilant every time they step into an intersection. The vast majority of pedestrian accidents are still caused by a driver not paying attention. Despite government efforts to curb pedestrian fatalities, the number of deaths rose in 2010 when compared with the year before. In California, the numbers stayed at 260.
Even when pedestrians are distracted, drivers must still be responsible for slowing down and making sure they don’t hit them. This is especially true in San Francisco, where an average of three pedestrian accidents happen each day. According to San Francisco Police Department records, 13 pedestrians were killed in 2011. Of those deaths, only two were caused by buses.
Pedestrians Are More Vulnerable
Unlike motor vehicles, pedestrians do not have any protection when they are hit by another vehicle. This makes pedestrians especially vulnerable to serious injury when they are hit by a car, truck or bus. Even a relatively low-speed accident could result in death.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is important you speak to a personal injury attorney right away. You may be eligible for compensation. An experienced and committed San Francisco personal injury attorney can evaluate your claim and explain your rights and options.