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Increase in pedestrian deaths blamed on distracted driving

Distracted driving is responsible for the sharp increase in pedestrian deaths that has occurred in Michigan and elsewhere over past decade according to traffic safety experts. Cellphones and vehicle infotainment systems appear to be the top culprits.

Federal statistics show that pedestrian deaths have spiked 46 percent since 2009 while overall traffic deaths have only gone up 11 percent over the same period. The increase comes despite automotive safety improvements designed to better protect pedestrians. These improvements include lower bumpers that strike pedestrians further down on their legs and extra space in the engine compartment to provide more cushion on impact.

While it is difficult to prove that distracted driving is to blame for the increase in pedestrian fatalities, many traffic safety experts believe that circumstantial evidence clearly points to it. For example, cellphone use skyrocketed by 236 percent between 2010 and 2016 according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Meanwhile, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that all vehicle infotainment systems are at least moderately distracting. As for possible solutions, a 2013 study in Florida found that high-visibility traffic enforcement produced a "statistically significant" drop in pedestrian-related crashes. However, drivers could help lower pedestrian accidents on their own by simply putting down their cellphones and paying attention to the road.

Victims of auto-pedestrian accidents may want to discuss the details of their case with a personal injury attorney. After reviewing the crash information, the attorney may advise filing a lawsuit against the responsible driver to recover damages, including medical expenses and lost wages. If a pedestrian is killed in a crash, his or her family might file a wrongful death suit against the at-fault driver.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Distracted driving, cellphones seen as factors in pedestrian deaths," Nathan Bomey, June 29, 2018

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