Traffic fatalities are up 17% percent across Illinois – and Chicago pedestrians are seeing their share of the fallout.
Deaths from Chicago pedestrian accidents in comprised a whopping 32% of the traffic fatalities within the city of Chicago in 2010, and 7.7% of all traffic fatalities in the state of Illinois. In 2012, things have only gotten grimmer: traffic deaths are on the rise, and pedestrians are greatly at risk.
While death by car collision is a pretty major concern for pedestrians, the numbers are even more staggering for incapacitating injuries.
An incapacitating injury is one that prevents the victim from walking, driving, or continuing their normal activities. These injuries might include severe lacerations, unconsciousness and brain damage, broken or distorted limbs, or skull, chest, and/or abdominal injuries. The numbers from 2010 state that in the greater Chicago area, 18.80% of pedestrian crashes involved incapacitating injuries. Add that to the 1.65% of pedestrian crashes that were fatal, and your chances of getting killed or incapacitated in a pedestrian accident are 1 in 5. Not good odds.
Unfortunately, one of the greatest contributing factors to pedestrian accidents is distracted walking, most commonly by using a cell phone to talk, text, or browse the web while navigating the streets. Pedestrians who use their phones or other distracting devices (such as loud music played through headphones on a mobile device) are less aware of their surroundings and more likely to unwittingly step into the path of an oncoming vehicle. They are also less aware of traffic signals and more likely to venture into crosswalks and parking lots at an unsafe moment. Essentially, pedestrians themselves may be their own greatest line of defense against pedestrian crashes.
The Driver’s Responsibility
Pedestrians aren’t the only ones constantly checking their phones in a modern world; the drivers have this problem too. Even though Chicago law prohibits all drivers from talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device, many drivers still do so, and talking at all is distracting for the driver, regardless of whether their hands are free. Text messaging and internet usage while on the phone is also illegal, but many drivers still engage in this activity. The half-second it takes for the driver to glance at their phone is plenty of time for them to not see a pedestrian step off the sidewalk and into the intersection.
Distracted Driving Prevention
The NHTSA states that a whopping 80% of accidents are the result of distracted driving, which makes it by far the most important activity for both pedestrians and drivers to avoid. The majority of distracted driving (and walking) accidents are caused by cell phone usage, so to avoid getting into a pedestrian accident and exposing yourself to the terrible 1-in-5 Russian Roulette odds, stay off your cell phone while walking and remain alert.
If you are in an accident or near-accident and you can see that the driver is using their cell phone while driving, report it to the police immediately. Distracted driving is rarely reported as a factor, but it is extremely important for the officer, your insurance, and your lawyer to know about.
If you find yourself in a pedestrian accident as the result of distracted driving, contact us. We can help protect your rights and see that the fault is placed with the correct person.