Cellphone use may be responsible for spike in pedestrian deaths

The Apple iPhone was first introduced in 2007. Since then, cellphone use in California and the rest of the U.S. has skyrocketed. Over the same period, pedestrian deaths have also sharply increased. Traffic safety experts believe the two phenomena are linked.

In the decade since the iPhone hit the market, cellphone-related emergency room visits in the U.S. jumped 83.5 percent, according to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Between 2010 and 2016, cellphone use across the country spiked by 236 percent, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Meanwhile, pedestrian fatalities have spiked 46 percent since 2009. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says no studies have demonstrated a "direct link" between cellphone use and pedestrian deaths, many experts believe the trends are closely related.

The increase in pedestrian fatalities is happening despite the auto industry's efforts to add pedestrian-friendly safety features to their vehicles. These features include rear-view cameras, automatic braking systems, lower bumpers and extra room in the engine compartment to cushion impacts. However, experts say these safety features can't completely make up for drivers who are looking at their cellphones instead of the road. While distracted pedestrians sometimes fail to look where they are going, safety advocates often say drivers have a greater responsibility to pay attention to the road. After all, they are operating heavy vehicles.

Victims of pedestrian accidents frequently suffer serious injuries. In order to recover medical expenses and other damages, it may be necessary for an injured victim to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who hit them. An attorney could help gather evidence supporting a lawsuit and work to negotiate a fair settlement.

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