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How distractions are leading to more pedestrian deaths

Whether their preferred mode of transportation is driving or walking, New Jersey residents should know that there are dangers to both. Since 2009, traffic fatalities have risen 11 percent, but pedestrian fatalities have risen a startling 46 percent. Experts know that vehicles themselves are not to blame for the increase because many automakers have made design changes to reduce the severity of crashes between vehicles and pedestrians.

The reason for this trend is believed to be distraction, especially cellphone use. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of active cellphones in use in the U.S. went up 236 percent between 2010 and 2016. Countless studies have been made showing that actions like calling, texting and even adjusting the audio put drivers at a higher risk for accidents.

Touchscreen systems do not mitigate the risk. In fact, a AAA-funded University of Utah study analyzed 30 in-car infotainment systems and found that each one demands either a high or moderate level of attention from drivers.

Also at risk are pedestrians who step off sidewalks when using their phones. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System organization claims that phone use led to an 83.5 percent increase in the number of U.S. emergency room visits between 2007 and 2016. The worst scenario is when both drivers and pedestrians fail to see each other.

When pedestrians are involved in a car accident, they may be able to receive compensation for their injuries. Victims may wish to consult with a lawyer and have their case evaluated. The lawyer may determine if any negligence on the victim's part could make the claim void. If not, the lawyer might proceed to negotiations or litigation.

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