Massachusetts banned texting while driving and teenagers using cellphones while driving. However, is it time to consider banning using iPods while walking? The number of deaths among pedestrians in Massachusetts is up from 14 in the first six months of 2009 to 25 in 2010 for that period. The distracted pedestrian is the target of lawmakers in several states, who are considering laws aimed at distracted pedestrians. The reason? An 0.4% increase, nationally, in pedestrian deaths. When a pedestrian is injured by a motor vehicle, was his electronic distraction a factor? You can bet the insurance defense attorney will use that information.
Lawmakers in several states intend to nip the new trend in the bud, because pedestrian deaths were falling for a decade: from 1999 to 2009, they were down 42% in youths (people under 20), 31% in people from 30 to 45, and 29% for seniors. The death rate from those in their 20 and those 45-65 was unchanged during that time period. One lawmaker wants headphones to be limited to one ear. Some lawmakers want the ban only in cities greater than 1 million. One answer is to educate the iPod and texting generation that it is dangerous. The question becomes, where do you draw the line?
It is old news now that distracted pedestrians have an increased injury rate. Called “situation awareness” a pedestrian who listens to music too loud, or focuses on a cell phone conversation to the detriment to his or her situation can result in serious injury. Even death. When NPR did a story in early 2009, there were no statistics, just anecdotal evidence of an increasing problem – numerous deaths of young people listening to music. However, their report included finding 11 cases in 2008 where the “use of portable electronics may have played a role in the death”