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Distracted Driving Kills More Pedestrians and Bicyclists

Researchers have described texting, calling or even eating while driving a hazardous threat to the public. Distracted driving have been insisted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center an increasing threat to pedestrians and cyclist.

Between the years of 2005 to 2010, national records reported that pedestrian death by distracted drivers went up from 344 to 500, whereas cyclists, the numbers increased from 56 to 73.

“We’re constantly exposed to distracted drivers. I don’t think there’s a day that I don’t see someone driving and using their cell phone, a lot of times they’re texting,” says UNMC College of Public Health Fernando Wilson, Ph.D., associate professor. “It’s something that’s pervasive in society. That’s one of the reasons it’s so difficult to deal with.

“It’s not like seat-belt usage and securing your child into a safety seat. If you don’t do these things, which now are the social norm – it’s viewed negatively. The laws are stricter. With cell phones, we don’t have that social stigma. Not to mention that distracted driving is more difficult to enforce than other driving safety laws.”

The Public Health Reports published a November-December issue that documents common trends and characteristics of pedestrians, bicyclists and other victim fatal accidents caused by distracted driving on public roads. The documents however does not include injuries.

Statistics of distracted driving may be underreported due to difficulty of police reports providing evidence that distracted driving as a main cause of accidents, which curbs to bring attention to distracted driving, says Dr. Wilson.

“The evidence on policies curbing distracted driving is very mixed and some research suggests policies are just not working – that we’re not really making a dent on distracted driving,” says Dr. Wilson. “If that’s the case, we need to think about marked crosswalks, bike paths – the environment that tries to create a separation between pedestrians and bicyclists with traffic.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration base it's data on whether authorities determines careless driving as drivers using technological devices, navigational devices, computers, faxing machines, radios or board-head displays that would be in connection to distracted driving. The researchers would use the data reports from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System on crashes on public roads.

Studies have shown that about 65 percent of pedestrian-auto accidents by distracted driving were mostly done by Caucasian males, between the ages 25 - 64 years old. The victims, 83 percent showed that mostly White male bicyclist between the ages of 25 - 64 years old, trended to be struck on marked crosswalks and in the city area.

Almost half of the pedestrian and cyclist fatalities that occurred from distracted driving, happens during the daytime hours.

“People have to be aware that this problem is not going away anytime soon,” says Dr. Wilson. “So when you’re crossing the street or cycling, you need to be cognizant about this new threat to roadway safety.”

Source: Claims Journal, "Distracted Driving Killing More Pedestrians, Bicyclists," University of Nebraska Medical Center, November 25, 2013