Saturday April 01, 2017

Smartphones May Be to Blame for Unprecedented Spike in Pedestrian Deaths

It turns out that 2016 has been a record year for pedestrian deaths in the US. Six thousand fatalities occurred last year, which is the highest number in more than 20 years. Pedestrian deaths have also grown at four times the rate of overall traffic deaths since 2010. Smartphones are immediately blamed, but I wonder if all the infotainment systems and other detractors that come in more and more vehicles may play a part, too.

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"The why is elusive. We don't know all the reasons," Retting said. "Clearly lots of things are contributing. But not one of these other factors have changed dramatically." The thing that has changed dramatically in recent years is smartphone use. The volume of wireless data used from 2014 to 2015 more than doubled, according to the Wireless Association. Drivers and pedestrians who are distracted by their smartphones are less likely to be aware of their surroundings, creating the potential for danger. "Somebody staring at their phone for two seconds at 40 mph has covered a very long distance," Retting said. "It's not hard to imagine a pedestrian at the wrong place, wrong time, never being seen by the driver."