Distracted Drivers Cause Fatal Accidents

More fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents are caused by distracted driving

According to a new study, drivers and passengers are not the only ones that are increasingly facing the risk of death from someone else's distracted driving. The study, conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, found that distracted drivers are becoming a more prevalent cause of fatalities among pedestrians and bicyclists as well.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a records repository of pedestrian and bicycle accidents that resulted in the death on at least one person involved. The researchers wanted to determine to what degree distracted driving is responsible for pedestrian and bicycling fatalities. As a result, the research focused on accidents that occurred between 2005 and 2010 where the accident report indicated that the driver of the vehicle was using a cellphone, GPS system, computer, or two-way radio just before the accident.

Having analyzed the data from this time period, it was found that distracted driving is increasingly causing fatal bicycle and pedestrian accidents. Specifically the study found:

  • The number of fatal pedestrian accidents caused by distracted drivers per 10 billion miles traveled (VMT) increased to 24.6 in 2010 from 18.7 in 2005.
  • Fatal bicycle accidents caused by distracted drivers per 10 million VMT also increased during this period, from 116.1 in 2005 to 168.6 in 2010.
  • Cellphones alone accounted for 18.6 of fatal bicycle/pedestrian accidents.
  • Fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents comprise about 10 percent of the total number of deaths caused by distracted driving.
  • Most pedestrians/bicyclists that were killed were males under 65 years old. Most fatalities occurred at night or when the pedestrian/bicyclist was not traveling across a crosswalk.

California's response

The dangers of distracted driving are well known in California. As a result, the legislature has passed laws banning the use of handheld cellphones and the sending, reading and composing of text messages while driving. Violators are subject to a fine for each offense. Despite the law, many Californians apparently cannot resist the temptation to stay connected, putting pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers at a needless risk of harm.

When a car strikes a pedestrian or bicycle, the aftermath can be catastrophic. Due to the car's overwhelming size and weight, there is a greater risk of a fatality than in most other types of accidents. Pedestrian and bicyclists that manage to survive are often left with serious injuries such as traumatic brain injury, severe lacerations, broken bones, internal bleeding or spinal cord injury, requiring surgery and extensive treatment or rehabilitation.

Fortunately, under California law, pedestrians or bicyclists that are injured because of a distracted driver have the right to seek compensation for their injuries. Additionally, family members may seek compensation for the lost of their loved one in such a situation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed because of a driver's negligence, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you further on your right to compensation and work to hold the responsible party accountable.