Study: Fatalities from non-motorized accidents increasing

When you think about the dangers caused by distracted driving, you probably think that the most likely one would be a collision with another motor vehicle. However, distracted driving can often also cause cars to collide with pedestrians and bicycles. When this happens, the results can be catastrophic. The lucky ones may walk away from the accident with a few bruises or scrapes, but pedestrian and bicycle accidents can often result in a fatality, due to the superior weight and size of the motor vehicle.

Unfortunately, according to a new study, the number of people killed in bicycle and pedestrian accidents by distracted drivers is increasing. The study, conducted by the University Of Nebraska Medical Center, examined data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which contains records of all pedestrian and bicycle accidents that resulted in the death of at least one person.

During the study, researchers examined the role of distracted driving played in fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents. In doing so, they focused their research on accidents occurring between 2005 and 2010 where the police report noted that the vehicle driver was using a cellphone, GPS system, two-way radio or computer. Once the data was analyzed, it was found that:

  • Fatal bicycle accidents caused by distracted drivers per 10 billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased from 18.7 in 2005 to 24.6 in 2010.
  • Similarly, the number of fatal pedestrian accidents caused by distracted drivers per 10 billion VMT increased from 116.1 in 2005 to 168.6 in 2010.
  • Overall, bicycle and pedestrian accidents represent about 10 percent of deaths caused by distracted driving.
  • The type of pedestrian most likely to be killed by distracted drivers was males between 25-64 years of age. Most in this group were killed at night while walking in an area other than a dedicated crosswalk (e.g. road shoulder).
  • The use of cellphones was involved in 18.6 percent of fatal pedestrian/bicycle accidents.

Legal remedies

The study noted that many states have responded to the growing problem that distracted driving is causing drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists alike by passing laws restricting texting or the use of cellphones while driving. For example, the city of Greenville, South Carolina recently passed an ordinance banning cellphone use and texting while driving within city limits. The study did not, however, comment on the effectiveness of such laws in reducing car accidents and fatalities.

Although South Carolina state law does not contain cellphone or texting restrictions while behind the wheel, this does not mean that distracted driving in South Carolina goes unpunished. The law imposes a duty on drivers in the state to operate their motor vehicles in a way that does not subject other drivers to an unreasonable risk of harm. Drivers that fail to fulfill this duty (i.e. by using a cellphone or texting) can be held civilly liable for any injuries or damage that they cause.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car, pedestrian or bicycle accident by a careless or inattentive driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can advise you on your situation and ensure that the negligent party is held accountable for his or her actions.