According to a new study by the Governors Highway Safety Association, U.S. pedestrian deaths neared 6,000 for the second straight year, in 2017. Mounting signs seem to indicate that walkers and drivers are dangerously distracted – and texting while walking can be particularly risky in urban environments

The report, released in February, showed a 9% increase in 2016 and a 9.5% increase in 2015, but essentially no change in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Pedestrian deaths are at levels unseen in 25 years. The spike comes despite improvements in vehicle safety, including the relatively recent introduction of automatic emergency braking systems, rearview cameras and collision-alert technology.

Other potentially helpful developments also seem to be lagging – including poor headlight designs and a failure to adopt lights that swivel with the curvature of the road – noted the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. About 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur at night.

Distracted pedestrians and drivers have created a deadly combination, according to experts.

In response, the city of Montclair, Calif., recently banned walking across the street while using a phone or headphones. Honolulu has a similar law. But widespread laws against distracted walking probably won’t prevent people from accidentally wandering into the road.

“You can’t out-regulate distraction,” said Rebecca Lindland, a Kelley Blue Book auto analyst. “At some point in time, people both behind the wheel and walking in the street have to take responsibility for their behavior and put down the phone.”

Source: USA Today

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