How Does Distracted Driving Contribute to Pedestrian Accidents in Houston?

Distracted driving has become more and more of a problem across the United States over the years, especially as smartphone use continues to increase. While vehicle manufacturers are implementing sophisticated hands-free systems to help drivers keep their eyes on the road, distracted driving accidents still happen on a daily basis. Other drivers and pedestrians in Houston are at risk of being harmed by distracted drivers. How does distracted driving contribute to pedestrian accidents in Houston, and what can you do to prevent them?

Types of Distracted Driving

distracted driving accidentDistracted driving tends to be lumped into one offense, but there are three distinct types of distraction: manual, visual, and cognitive. One type of distraction is not “less dangerous” than the others; all are potential contributors to pedestrian injuries and deaths in Houston and elsewhere.

Manual Distractions

“Manual” refers to something done with the hands. Manual distraction is when someone tries to do something with their hands while driving, such as changing their music, picking up something they have dropped, or eating. Taking your hands off the wheel while driving is extremely dangerous, especially while trying to complete a separate task at the same time. Your focus should always be on the road 100%.

Visual Distractions

Visual distraction, which is what most people probably think of when they hear “distracted driving,” is anything that takes your eyes off the road. Technology is a great example of a common visual distraction, with texting and driving being a common focus for anti-distracted driving initiatives. Even looking around at the scenery while driving is a visual distraction and could cause a pedestrian accident.

Cognitive Distractions

Cognitive distractions are more common than you might realize. How often do you listen to something while driving, whether it be music, a podcast, or an audiobook? How often do you drive while experiencing strong emotions, such as after an argument? These common occurrences can be unexpectedly dangerous, as they can impair your reaction time and ability to concentrate on the road.

Distracted Driving and Pedestrian Accident Statistics in Houston, TX

Texas’s driving accident statistics from 2021 paint a grim picture, showing that 431 people died in Texas due to distracted driving over the course of the year, with just under 3,000 injured. The Texas Department of Transportation estimates that roughly one in five traffic accidents in Texas are caused by distracted driving.

Pedestrian accidents, meanwhile, have risen by approximately 32.5 percent, with 819 fatalities in 2021 as compared to 618 in 2017. In total for the year 2021, there were 5,366 crashes involving a pedestrian in Texas.

How Does Distracted Driving Worsen Pedestrian Accidents?

Any accident involving a pedestrian is quite dangerous simply due to the size and mass of a car compared to a human being, but distracted driving accidents involving pedestrians may be even riskier. If someone is distracted, they may not notice in time that they are about to hit someone and therefore not slow down before doing so. The risk of severe injury and death for pedestrians increases in proportion to the driver’s speed. For example, the risk of severe or fatal injury is 10 percent if a pedestrian is struck by a car going 16 miles per hour. That risk increases to 50 percent if the driver speeds up by 15 mph and hits the pedestrian at 31 miles per hour.

It is important to note that visual and manual distractions are not the only distractions that can prove fatal or catastrophic in distracted driving accidents in Houston. If a driver is dealing with a cognitive distraction, that driver may notice a pedestrian but incorrectly assume that they, as the driver, have the right of way or that the other person will stop walking and allow the car to pass.

Pedestrian Accident Injuries

Pedestrians are automatically at greater risk for injury or death from being struck by a car than the occupants of another car would be. Since they are on foot, pedestrians do not have the protection of airbags or the frame of a vehicle to absorb the impact of a collision. Injuries from distracted driving accidents involving pedestrians can be gruesome. Broken bones are common, including compound fractures – a type of break in which the broken bone punctures through the skin. Pedestrians hit by cars have also been known to suffer internal injuries and bleeding, largely due to the blunt-force trauma from colliding with such a heavy object.

What You Can Do to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents in Houston

Driver negligence is a contributing factor to many pedestrian accidents in and around Houston, TX, but pedestrian negligence can also play a role. Whenever you are crossing the street, it is important to look both ways and ensure that the road is clear, even if the “walk” sign is on. Only cross the road at crosswalks, and never cross against the light. Remain vigilant as you cross. Avoid looking at your phone, and instead, keep looking side to side to make sure your path is clear.

When you are driving, avoid taking your eyes off the road for any reason. Pull over if you must. When it comes to cell phones or other handheld devices, use a hands-free system if you need to, but try enabling a “driving mode” on your phone to block new notifications and avoid the temptation to use it.

Have You Been Hit by a Distracted Driver in Houston?

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, the first step is to seek medical attention if you need it. If possible, take photos of the accident and your injuries (or have someone nearby do so). Once you have been treated, contact Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. to learn more about your legal options after a distracted driving pedestrian accident in Houston. A qualified lawyer may be able to help you gather the evidence you need to prove that the driver who hit you was distracted and fight alongside you for fair compensation.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We are here to help.

Author