Combating Texting While Walking

By Greg Kohn

Why has the number of pedestrian accidents increased in recent years?

With the surge in mobile electronics, more of us today are walking around looking down at our phones, instead of in front of us.  Walking while staring at a phone has created a whole new category of accidents dubbed “distracted walking.”  The National Safety Council estimates that distracted walking accidents increased from just 500 in the year 2000 to more than 2,000 each year since 2011.  The true incidence of these accidents may be far higher due to a lack of national reporting standards.  Our New Jersey pedestrian accident attorneys discuss some of the dangers of distracted walking below and new steps that are being taken across the nation to combat texting while walking.

Distracted Pedestrians Are At-Risk

Several incidences of distracted walking have made national headlines, raising attention to the problem of texting while walking.  When the Pokémon Go phenomenon swept the country, numerous reports of pedestrians walking into traffic or off of ledges surfaced.  Many others have been injured after walking into traffic while texting.  The reality is that pedestrians who are looking at their phones may not spot dangers in front of them.  Serious injuries can result due to pedestrian distraction.

Honolulu’s “Cross and Text Law”

Recognizing the dangers of texting and walking, Honolulu became the first major city to take action to prevent the practice.  Mayor Kirk Caldwell recently signed a bill into law that will ban pedestrians from texting or using other electronic devices in a crosswalk.  Pedestrians can still use their cellphones while crossing the street, but cannot perform actions on their mobile device that require them to look down.

The law is being dubbed “The Cross and Text Law” or the “Distracted Walking Law.”  City officials hope it will lead to a decline in the number of pedestrian accidents, which have surged since widespread adoption of mobile phone technologies.  In New Jersey, a small county has considered a similar pedestrian texting law, but not yet passed the ban.  If Honolulu’s law is any indication, more states and counties across the nation will likely consider placing restrictions on cell phone use while walking in and around roadways.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.