Does Distracted Driving Place Pedestrians at Risk?

April 15, 2024

By Grossman Green PLLC

Distracted driving is a negligent driving behavior that not only endangers other motorists on the road but also poses a severe risk to pedestrians and bicyclists. With the rise of the popularity of smartphones and other personal electronics, the risk to pedestrians and bicyclists has perhaps never been greater.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving describes a range of negligent activities that distract from the driver’s task of operating a vehicle safely and respecting the duty of care that they owe people, including pedestrians and bicyclists. Common examples include using a cellphone or smartphone like texting or calling, adjusting the radio or navigation system, and engaging in conversations with passengers.

All types of driver distractions will cause at least one of these safety issues:

  • Taking the driver’s hands off the steering wheel.
  • Taking the driver’s eyes off the road and mirrors.
  • Taking the driver’s mind off the task of safe driving.

Smartphone use is such an egregious form of driver distraction because it involves all three forms of distractions at once. A driver using a smartphone has taken at least one hand off the steering, is looking at the phone and not the road, and is thinking about a text or how they are using the phone.

2022 Distracted Driving Fatality Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving resulted in 3,308 fatalities in the year 2022 alone. Within this alarming figure, 621 pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-occupants (people not in a vehicle but who had become involved in the crash) were fatally injured in accidents where distraction played a significant role or had been the direct cause. The statistics serve as a stark reminder that distracted driving is a danger to everyone, not just drivers, but also pedestrians and bicyclists.

Heightened Risk for Pedestrians & Bicyclists

Pedestrians and bicyclists can do little to protect themselves from serious injuries if a distracted driver hits them. Unlike motorists and passengers who are protected by the metal chassis and frames of vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists are exposed to direct impacts in the event of a collision. Even when a bicyclist wears a helmet, knee pads, elbow guards, and other protective equipment, they can still suffer severe injuries if they are hit by a distracted driver. After all, bicyclist gear is mainly designed to protect the cyclist from injuries if they fall off their bike or run into a fence, which is much less intense than a strike from a moving vehicle. On the other hand, a pedestrian should have the right to assume they won’t be hit by a distracted driver while walking down the street, across a crosswalk, or through a parking lot, so there’s no reason why they should be expected to wear protective gear.

Severe injuries that are often suffered in pedestrian or bicycle accidents include:

  • Head injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Bone fractures

When traveling at low speeds, distracted drivers can seriously injure any bicyclist or pedestrian in an accident. The heavy weight and mass of a motor vehicle give it significant force while in motion, even well below highway speed. If that force is imparted on a bicyclist or pedestrian, who will naturally have a much lower weight and mass, the result will be a devastating collision that is inherently much more likely to injure the bicyclist or pedestrian.

Taking Legal Action Against Distracted Drivers

Correcting driver behavior can be a challenge, and many driving safety campaigns from groups like the National Safety Council (NSC) often go unnoticed by the average driver. What is impossible to ignore, though, is legal action. Personal injury and liability laws across the country allow pedestrians and bicyclists alike to file injury claims and lawsuits against drivers who hit them or their loved ones due to a distraction behind the wheel. Any pedestrian or bicyclist who has been hurt by a negligent driver should always explore their legal options with an attorney; in doing so, they might be able to secure fair compensation for themselves and help correct the driver’s unsafe driving behaviors – and that of the people around them – so the roads become safer for everyone in the future.

Grossman Green PLLC proudly stands up for the rights of injured pedestrians and bicyclists across Louisville and the surrounding regions of Kentucky. When a distracted driver’s negligence has caused you to suffer a life-changing injury, you need to know that the legal counsel you hire to handle your claim understands the gravity of what you’re going through. That’s why, for more than 35 years, we have always used a client-centric approach to casework that includes reputable legal insight, trustworthy moral support, and a genuine interest in seeing you get the recovery you need and deserve.

To talk with a pedestrian accident lawyer or bicycle accident attorney from Grossman Green PLLC in Kentucky, call (502) 215-3344 and ask for a FREE case consultation.