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Pedestrian Accidents: States Considering Laws to Combat Distracted Walking & Jogging

January 26, 2011

Many states, including Georgia, have enacted laws aimed at making our roads safer by reducing the number of distracted drivers on the road. The problem of drivers distracted by mobile phones, iPods and other handheld electronic gadgets causing serious auto accidents has resulted in various laws prohibiting texting and talking on a cell phone while driving, or limiting such conversations to hands-free use of a cell phone. Georgia has distracted driver laws that prohibit texting while driving and all cell phone use by drivers who are under 18 or driving a bus. Now two states, New York and Arkansas, have targeted pedestrians that are distracted as they walk or jog.

Both states have proposed restrictions on using cell phones and music players, such as iPods by pedestrians, when running and walking. This new trend is aimed at reducing the risk of serious auto collisions involving pedestrians who are not paying attention to potential auto accident risks. Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, has been representing those who suffer serious injuries or wrongful death in pedestrian auto accidents throughout Georgia for over 37 years.

The proposed legislation is aimed at preventing car crashes with pedestrians that might be averted if the pedestrian had his or her concentration, hearing and/or vision focused on where the pedestrian is walking or jogging. The proposed Arkansas legislation would make it illegal to wear headphones in both ears while on, parallel or adjacent to a street, road, intersection or highway, with the goal of permitting those walking or jogging to hear approaching vehicles or car horns.

The legislation being promoted in New York is broader. New York State Sen. Carl Kruger is promoting a ban on the use of cell phones, iPods and other gadgets by pedestrians while crossing the street in all major cities with a population of at least one million people in the state of New York. A violation of the law would result in a $100 civil fine.

Laws banning distracted pedestrians by restricting the use of mobile phones, iPods and other handheld electronic devices represent a reaction to an increase in pedestrian accident deaths during the first half of 2010, after several years in decreases in the pedestrian accident fatality rate. This increase in pedestrian accident fatality rates has come at a time when extensive use of mobile phone and iPod type devices is rising sharply. Pedestrians currently account for twelve percent of all motor vehicle accident fatalities in the U.S.

Opponents of the legislation favor public education campaigns aimed at increasing pedestrian awareness about the risks of distracted walking and jogging. These advocates argue that distracted pedestrians do not pose the same dangers to others with whom they share the roadway as distracted drivers. However, it is simply not the case that distracted pedestrians pose a danger only to themselves. A pedestrian who is not paying attention when they enter an intersection poses a danger to other pedestrians and bicycle riders who may be struck by a car trying to avoid the distracted pedestrian. Pedestrians paying more attention to their mobile phone or other electronic devices than approaching vehicles also put motorists in danger who may lose control of their vehicle or otherwise be involved in a serious auto collision when engaging in evasive maneuvers to avoid a distracted pedestrian.

Our experienced Georgia pedestrian auto accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24 hour Live Online Chat.

Our attorneys and staff will work hard to protect your interests and get you the compensation you deserve.

Category: Auto Accidents

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.