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What Are the Dangers of Distracted Walking?

Posted on May 28, 2018

Most Americans are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, such as using a cell phone behind the wheel, but few realize the inherent dangers of walking while distracted. Distracted walking has spurred several states to push for bans that restrict mobile phone usage while walking, but none have so far been successful. New York City recently reduced the speed limits in the city to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities, and some cities have even installed padding on lampposts and street signs because of the rising number of pedestrians walking into them while using mobile phones.

Risks of Walking While Distracted

Although it may sound cartoonish, it’s very possible to step into an open manhole, wet concrete, or other hazards if you’re not paying attention to where you are going. Some individuals have even wandered through crosswalks or directly into traffic without realizing it because of distractions like their mobile phones or other devices. Distracted walking may also cause you to trip and fall over obstacles in your path you could have otherwise avoided. This may not sound like a serious injury, but distracted walking can lead to broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, contusions, death, and injury to others.

If you are walking while using a mobile phone and not paying attention to where you are going, you may also inadvertently disqualify yourself from collecting compensation for your damages through a lawsuit. For example, if you are using a cell phone while walking on the sidewalk and do not notice a construction pylon and trip over it and break your arm, you would likely have a difficult time filing a lawsuit against the construction company since you weren’t paying attention.

The National Safety Council recently added distracted walking to its annual report of accidental deaths and injuries due to the prevalence of the problem. According to a Governors Highway Safety Association report, about 54% of adults reported running into someone or something while using a mobile phone. About half of all pedestrians crossing busy intersections engage in distracting behaviors like cell phone use while crossing. About 40% of all teens have suffered injuries from motor vehicles, and the risk of such an injury doubles if a teen is using a cell phone while walking.

Legal Implications of Distracted Walking

Alabama follows a contributory negligence law, which stipulates that a plaintiff cannot recover damages in a lawsuit if he or she contributed to those damages. Essentially, you can only file a lawsuit for damages if you did not contribute to the incident in any way. Contributory negligence is an affirmative defense in Alabama personal injury cases, so distracted walking will certainly bar your recovery if you think you can file a lawsuit for your damages.

Additionally, distracted walking would likely constitute negligence if you injure someone else. For example, if you are texting while walking and bump into an elderly individual who falls and suffers a hip fracture, you would be liable for his or her injury and damages. Similarly, if a driver hits you, your negligence will likely bar you from recovering any damages. It’s also a good idea to refrain from using headphones while walking through busy metropolitan areas. Limiting your hearing can make it difficult to avoid a sudden hazard, increasing the likelihood of injuries.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do to avoid potential legal liability and serious injuries from distracted walking is to eliminate distractions while walking. Only use your cell phone while stationary, and put it away when it’s time to move. Keep a close eye on your surroundings and you can prevent distracted walking injuries. our Birmingham personal injury lawyers can help.