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Distracted walking can lead to accidents

On Behalf of | May 30, 2023 | Auto-Pedestrian Accidents |

If you’re apprehended for jaywalking in Seattle, you’re looking at a non-criminal traffic citation – that is, a fine – of $68. While there’s no similar citation for distracted walking in Seattle, distracted walking really is a “thing.” It’s been identified as a contributing factor in auto/pedestrian accidents resulting in injuries, property damage and death.

DUI-E: A recognized issue for drivers

Drivers have already been put on notice. With some 20-25% of serious injuries and roadway deaths attributed to distracted driving, Washington authorities in 2017 took the matter in hand and instituted the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act (DUI-E) which bans handheld use of electronics while driving. The first fine is $136, and it increases to $234 with subsequent offenses.

So, if you’re on the road, you’re off the phone. There are no two ways about it.

Similarly, distracted walking influences a pedestrian’s ability to negotiate their surroundings. Whether it’s texting or listening to music, eyes and ears are not on the road, taking in traffic lights and signs, other pedestrians, or oncoming traffic. Our attention is a finite supply and distractions consume too much of it.

Pure comparative negligence

This cognizable issue comes into play in auto/pedestrian accident investigations and assessments. To the extent the pedestrian’s distracted behavior contributed to an accident, they’ll be held accountable.

Thus, all the damages in an accident case are added up. A plaintiff’s recovery is reduced in proportion to the degree of fault they’ve been assigned.

In some states that means if plaintiff’s contributory role to the accident exceeds 50% or 51% they’re barred from damages recovery. However, in Washington, that ceiling is 99%. The 99% culpable plaintiff can recover damages, but that recovery will be reduced by 99%.

Pedestrians share the roads with motor vehicles, and they’ve rights and responsibilities thereto. Given the imperative of public safety, managing electronic inputs effectively is a challenge to be met.