With today’s technology constantly demanding our attention, even walking can be a dangerous activity. Unfortunately, pedestrians can walk into traffic, ignore traffic signals, and even run into inanimate objects or other people. Technology sometimes changes pedestrians into “zombies” who have no idea what is going on around them.
In 2016, the Toronto City Council decided to pass a motion that encouraged regulation of distracting walking. However, the BC Ministry of Transportation has not created any rules that create restrictions related to distracted walking. Nonetheless, distracted walking can create real problems for everyone on the road.
What is Distracted Walking?
Distracted walking occurs when a pedestrian is simply not paying attention to what is going on around him or her. It usually happens because the walker is watching their phone or another smart device instead of paying attention to their surroundings, but not always. Those with headphones also do not have the benefit of hearing what is going on around them, which can also create accidents as well.
Distracted walkers are sometimes dangerous on the sidewalk, but they are particularly troublesome when they walk out into traffic, especially when they step out between cars or without checking for cars first.
While there are no regulations in B.C. regarding distracted walking currently, implementing rules regarding distracted walkers seems to be popular with the public as a whole in Canada. According to one report, 66 per cent of Canadians support an outright ban on texting while walking.
Is Distracted Walking Really a Problem?
Roughly 55 pedestrians are killed each year. However, there are no meaningful statistics regarding whether pedestrian deaths are due to their own distraction levels, another cause, or some combination of the two issues.
The number of pedestrian deaths has been stable over the past several years. This factor alone would suggest that distracted walking has not really increased the number of fatalities for pedestrians. However, you should also consider the fact that while pedestrian deaths have remained stable, passengers and drivers that have been killed in motor-vehicle accidents dropped over 40 per cent over the same period. In addition, even as the number of cyclists on the road increase, the number of total cyclist deaths are down.
Distracted Walking and Legal Liability
Even pedestrians are required to keep a look out for their own safety when they walk into the road. Failing to do this could undermine a legal case against a driver that hits a pedestrian.
In 2004, the BC Court of Appeals decided a case that emphasized the importance of keeping a proper lookout, even as a pedestrian. The accident, in that case, involved a pedestrian and a driver. It was a dark and stormy night when the pedestrian was hit by a vehicle and sustained injuries. The pedestrian did not look before he crossed the street and was distracted by gathering up his coat, attempting to avoid a puddle, and shifting his umbrella from one arm to the other. The court determined that the pedestrian’s actions were in violation of section 179(2) of the Motor Vehicle Act, which requires even pedestrians to keep a proper lookout for their safety.
In a similar case that took place in a parking lot, the pedestrian was found to be only 25 per cent at fault. This may have been, in part, because of the location of the accident. Drivers should be on the lookout for pedestrians more so in a parking lot than on the open road.
Getting Legal Help After an Accident
Regardless of what type of role you played in a pedestrian accident, you may have a legal claim. Our team at Diamond and Diamond can walk you through your options. Call our 24/7 hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your claim today.