Distracted driving is often contextualized with car-on-car accidents. A driver checks his or her cellphone, loses focus of the road and, BAM, they hit another vehicle after drifting from their lane. There certainly isn’t anything incorrect about this context. It happens all the time. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,328 people died in distracted driver accidents in 2012.
However, an issue with this repeated contextualization of distracted driving is that it leaves out other areas that such a negligent behavior can negatively impact. Specifically, consider the impact distracted driving has on pedestrians and bicyclists.
Bicyclists and pedestrians are already at enough of a risk. If they are involved in an accident, it is likely they will be dealt serious or catastrophic nature simply due to their inherent unprotected nature. However, add in the fact that many drivers fail to properly check for bikers and pedestrians; and now also add in the recent phenomenon of distracted driving, and you can see why pedestrians and bikers need to be considered in the discussion.
From 2005 to 2010, fatal bike or pedestrians accidents increased significantly, according to a study based on data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Pedestrian deaths due to a distracted driver jumped from 344 in 2005 to 500 in 2010. Those same metrics jumped from 56 to 73 for bike accidents.
It is a startling reminder that, even with most states passing texting or cell phone bans while driving, the threat of such a dangerous behavior is still prevalent out on the road.
Source: Medical Daily, “Distracted Drivers Cause Pedestrian Deaths To Rise 50% From Texting, Talking On Phone, Or Eating At The Wheel,” Lecia Bushak, Nov. 30, 2013