Some people can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, but Honolulu thinks too many people are bad at walking and texting. The city has now passed legislation which outlaws pedestrians crossing the street while texting or otherwise using their smartphones. As you might expect, the law is receiving mixed reviews. Some safety experts believe the laws will make pedestrians think twice about using their phone while crossing the street. Others believe the law is just another form of government overreach. Finally, some critics believe the law will allow distracted drivers to blame pedestrians. But one thing is for sure. . .
Pedestrian deaths are on the rise. Roughly 6,000 people died last year in pedestrian accidents. An 11% increase from 2015 and a 22% increase from 2014. Pedestrians now comprise a whopping 15% of all traffic fatalities. To be sure, the increase in pedestrian deaths is not attributable solely to distracted walkers. The reality is that more people are walking these days, and cities and planning commissions are not doing enough to keep pedestrians safe. Too many streets are without sidewalks and pedestrian crossings despite having large segments of the communities using the streets as pedestrians. Unfortunately, this is usually just a matter of not enough funding. But sometimes it is a matter of priorities. Cities will usually widen streets to allow for greater vehicle traffic before they will install sidewalks to protect pedestrians.
Honolulu is not the only city trying to combat the problem with fines for crossing the street while using your phone. Stamford, Connecticut is expected to follow suit and likely other cities as well. Los Angeles is trying a public awareness campaign of “Look Up, Phone Down”. And in Germany, one city (Ausburg) is embedding traffic signals into the sidewalk so people looking down at their phones are more apt to see them. (Apparently, the infrastructure budget is quite large in Ausburg.)
The bottom line is this: in Tennessee, drivers must yield to pedestrians. And if a driver stops to allow a pedestrian to cross, another vehicle cannot pass the stopped vehicle from behind. Conversely, pedestrians are not permitted to bolt into traffic in such a way that a vehicle cannot avoid them. Finally, while this post has focused on pedestrians along the street or crosswalk, remember we are all pedestrians at some point even if it is just when we get out of our car to walk into the grocery store or restaurant.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, we urge you to hire a lawyer promptly. Because the driver has a duty to yield to pedestrians, you can be sure the driver’s insurance carrier will be working furiously to try and blame you, the pedestrian, by claiming you were distracted and stepped out in front of the car without giving them sufficient time to stop. You need an injury lawyer who is experienced in these types of cases and who can successfully steer you through the process.
Our award-winning lawyers have handled plenty of pedestrian injury and pedestrian death cases, and we are here to help you too. If you would like a free, no-obligation consultation, give us a call. We handle all injury cases on a contingency basis so you are never out of pocket to pursue your case. Call us anytime at 615-742-4880 (Nashville) or 615-867-9900 (Murfreesboro) or 866-812-8787 (toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee or the country).