Warmer Weather Translates to More Foot Traffic, But Also More Urban Pedestrian Crashes

With spring almost in full swing, we can only hope that the warmer days will continue and take us into summer in a couple months. Meanwhile, it may be a good idea to offer a bit of cautionary advice regarding traffic safety. In this case, the safety of those people who walk to work or school, use bicycles to go shopping, or who enjoy a warm-weather exercise regimen of running or jogging in the fresh air.

We have no qualms about people wanting to enjoy healthy pastimes or simply to eschew driving for a spell and take to the sidewalks for a change of pace. However, as Baltimore auto accident attorneys and personal injury lawyers, I and my colleagues are cognizant of the basic risks that those who venture out on foot amid vehicular traffic take on from time to time. Quite simply, pedestrians and automobile traffic do not readily mix, though our state and local traffic safety departments try to maintain safe zones to keep these mutually exclusive groups apart.

Whether one is a pedestrian for economic reasons, health purposes, or just plain enjoyment, it is important that everyone who travels on-foot does so with safety foremost in their mind. This does not mean that one can assume that his or her safety is solely the responsibility of passenger car drivers, commercial truck drivers, or motorcycle riders; it isn’t. Those operating motor vehicles do have a responsibility to watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists, but pinning one’s future well-being on another person’s ability NOT to hit you with their car is not a very good strategy.

Regardless of the law, being injured in a car, motorcycle or commercial trucking accident is just as painful or as life-threatening whether one was in the right or not. In fact, anyone who uses the argument that it’s the driver’s job to avoid hitting me, otherwise he’ll pay the price is faulty reasoning. Take the extreme example: a pedestrian who has the legal right-of-way, crossing a street with the light, but who doesn’t see the delivery truck unable to stop in time will be just as dead regardless of his or her right to cross the street safely.

Being dead wrong is not a winning strategy. And we think that your family would agree as well. With this in mind, we will add that staying aware of one’s environment is a key factor to avoiding being caught in a potentially deadly traffic situation. Part of this goes back to the good old days of “stop, look and listen.” These days many people stop and look before crossing a busy street, but do they listen? Many do, but others apparently choose not to. How is this possible?

The answer is headphones. According to researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical Center, more and more pedestrians are using headphones and in doing so blocking out some very critical audible information that could save their lives someday. Apparently, pedestrians who use headphones or earbuds to listen to audio programs, music, podcasts, etc., are being injured in larger numbers than in the past.

Researchers reportedly found that serious injuries to persons on-foot increased three-fold over the course of six years. Some of the pedestrian accidents resulting from this personal choice of auditory isolation have included incidents involving passenger cars and even railroad trains whose warning signals and horns were never heard or acknowledged by the victim prior to the collision. In almost 75 percent of these headphone-related pedestrian accidents the victim sustained fatal injuries and died as a result.

Our message today is that everyone should be aware of their surroundings for the benefit of themselves and their families. Safety should trump pleasure, especially when the consequence can range from a week in the hospital to a lifetime of physical discomfort or permanent disability. Save the iTunes and the podcasts for the safety of your home and you may save a life… your own.

Headphones Linked to Pedestrian Deaths, Injuries; ScienceDaily.com, January 17, 2012

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