Readers are likely all aware of the problem of distracted driving and its toll on our highways in terms of injuries, fatalities and financial costs. Distracted driving, of course, presents risks to other motorists on the road, but especially to pedestrians. In recent weeks, an increase in distracted driving accidents involving pedestrians in Western Massachusetts has been a reminder of this. Recent weeks have seen fatalities in Springfield, West Springfield and Palmer and accidents involving serious injuries in Northampton, Worcester and Agawam.

The problem of pedestrian accidents is present not just in Massachusetts, but across the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 4,743 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in 2012, and 76,000 were injured. 

Not surprisingly, the elderly and children are most at risk. For its part, the state of Massachusetts ranked 31st in terms of the number of pedestrian fatalities in 2012. A quick Google search will show that states with higher populations of retirees rank higher in this area.

Distracted driving is not the only threat to pedestrian safety, though. Impaired driving is also an issue. Still, it is worth pointing out that there are many cases where pedestrians contribute to or are wholly responsible for their own injuries. The circumstances vary, but in some cases pedestrians act without regard to the law, assuming that drivers will see them. In some cases, pedestrians themselves are distracted by music or a phone conversation, or are impaired by drugs or alcohol. Whatever the circumstances, it is pedestrians who always end up with the short end of the stick in an accident.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue, particularly how it relates to Massachusetts comparative negligence law.

Source: Masslive.com, “Distracted drivers or brazen pedestrians? Many sides to issue of pedestrian vs. car accidents,” Dec. 22, 2014.