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The Dangers of Texting While Walking

Published in Pedestrian Safety on July 7, 2020

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of the road. A pedestrian could suffer life-altering injuries in a collision. As a pedestrian in Boston, you can reduce your risk of accidents by obeying pedestrian laws and paying attention to where you are walking. One of the most dangerous things you can do as a pedestrian is to text while walking.

Where Do Pedestrian Accidents Happen the Most Often?

 Intersections are the most dangerous places for pedestrians in Boston. They are where pedestrian and vehicle traffic intersect. If everyone obeyed traffic laws at intersections, collisions would not happen. Unfortunately, negligent and reckless drivers often roll through stop signs, run red lights, speed, ignore rights-of-way and fail to check for pedestrians before turning. This leads to serious pedestrian collisions.

 A pedestrian can decrease his or her odds of getting into an accident with a motor vehicle at an intersection by paying attention. A pedestrian should never assume it is safe to cross, even when given the walk signal by a traffic control device. If you walk in Boston, make it your duty to look both ways before stepping off a curb. Even with the walk sign, a driver may break a roadway rule and endanger your life. Check for oncoming traffic before leaving the safety of the curb.

Why Is Texting While Walking So Risky?

 As a pedestrian in Boston, you must be vigilant for risks of a traffic accident at all times, especially when crossing a road. Distracted walking is as dangerous for a pedestrian as distracted driving is for a driver. Walking while distracted by a cellphone, social media, music, podcast, friends walking with you, food or drinks could lead to stepping into traffic without the right-of-way. Texting while walking is particularly dangerous because it absorbs your attention cognitively and visually.

 Walking while texting requires you to think about something other than traversing Boston’s streets and sidewalks. You are thinking about the text you just read or the text you are typing rather than what is going on around you. Texting or emailing takes over your thoughts, leaving less attention to spare for the road or crosswalk. You may not notice the crosswalk light has turned off, for example, or an oncoming driver is not stopping if you are thinking about a text message. A distracted or wandering mind cannot dedicate its full attention to walking safely.

 Texting also presents a hazard by diverting your vision. Rather than keeping your head up and watching where you are walking, texting on a cellphone points your head down at the ground. This could easily make you fail to see a crosswalk signal or changing traffic light, as well as hazards such as walls, poles and bicyclists. You could be at risk not only of running into an obstacle while texting and walking but also of walking into oncoming traffic. In 2018 alone, 78 pedestrians lost their lives in traffic accidents in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts’ Comparative Fault Laws

 Texting while walking makes you a hazard to yourself. It is a type of distraction that increases your risk of walking into an obstacle or into the road when it is not safe to cross. If you get into a pedestrian accident while texting and walking, your comparative fault could bar you from financial recovery. The driver might not owe you anything if he or she proves you caused the accident due to distracted walking.

 The law in Massachusetts states that if an injured party’s percentage of fault is greater than 50%, that person cannot recover any damages. If therefore, the driver can prove you walked into the road when you did not have the right-of-way because you were texting, you may lose the right to seek compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. Paying attention as a pedestrian in Boston is important not only for your personal safety but to protect your legal rights in the event of an accident.

For more information, call our law office at (617)-391-9001. Or if you would prefer to email us, then please visit our contact page.

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