“Inattentive Blindness” Causing More Pedestrian Accidents

Tim WilliamsPedestrian Accident, Personal Injury

Oregon’s Department of Transportation said that around 64 pedestrian accidents statewide in the past 5 years were caused by distracted drivers and pedestrians. Although concerns and laws surrounding distracted drivers have increased, very little is said when it comes to distracted pedestrians. People of all ages and walks of life on the streets, on public transit, and riding escalators and elevators, are engaged in the same distractions that lead to fatal car accidents.

Pedestrian Fatalities Rising

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrian fatalities are on the rise. Almost 5,000 pedestrian deaths and 76,000 injuries with pedestrian/traffic collisions occurred in the United States in 2012. Although no direct ties have been made to distracted walking, it is hard to ignore the rising numbers.

“Inattentive Blindness”

According to research performed by New York’s Stony Brook University, those involved in distractions such as texting were 60 per cent more likely to walk off course than those who were not walking and texting. This occurrence is referred to as “inattentive blindness”. This phenomenon is believed to be part of the evolved human brain being unable to focus on more than one thing at a time, thus making it almost impossible to walk and text.


Common multi-tasking acts in which pedestrians engage include listening to music with sound blocking headphones, reading, texting, and using hand held devices for phone calls. All of these distractions can cause a pedestrian to step out into traffic, collide with other pedestrians or even cause bicycle accidents.

Kuzel et al. (2008b) reviewed collisions involving pedestrians who were distracted by headphones. They found that pedestrians were involved with collisions with all types of vehicles when they were distracted by “auditory activities” at common crossroads and while walking or crossing the street.

Growing Precautions

Many different and often surprising precautions have been taken to help prevent pedestrian accidents, including a jay walking and texting fine of $85 in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and lamp posts in London, England being padded to reduce injuries to distracted walkers.

Avoiding Accidents

To avoid a pedestrian accident the following rules should be followed:

  • Do not wear headphones or at least keep the volume low
  • Do not talk on a cell phone while crossing a street
  • Always remain aware of traffic
  • Stop walking when texting

In Portland, Oregon, Dwyer Williams Cherkoss Attorneys, PC is familiar with the injuries and dangers associated with pedestrian accidents. Our attorneys have extensive experience in personal injury lawsuits and handle a wide range of cases. If you or someone you know has been injured in a pedestrian accident, we invite you to call our offices today at (541) 617-0555.