A poll by the AA found that 72% of drivers in the UK have seen a pedestrian step out onto the road while they are distracted by their mobile phone or another digital device. Such individuals are known as “distracted walkers”. Statistics show that, on average, one pedestrian will be involved in a fatal road traffic accident every day. The fear is that there will be in an increase in the number of fatal accidents involving pedestrians due to these “distracted walkers” or “smombies” (smartphone zombies).
This problem is not unique to Scotland, or indeed the UK. While some measures have been implemented in London to try and stop the number of injuries associated with “distracted walkers” (lampposts have been padded to protect people who end up walking into them), Honolulu, Hawaii has taken strong steps to deal with this rising problem.
It was found that more than 11,000 people had been hurt as a result of “distracted walking” in the United States between 2000 and 2011. As a result of these statistics Honolulu has passed the “Distracted Walking Law” which bans pedestrians from looking at mobile phones, texting or using digital devices while crossing the road. The aim of the law is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by “distracted walking”. The bill will come in to force in October 2017. Anyone found to be using their phone (or any other digital device) while crossing the road will be faced with a fine ranging from £11 to £75. Repeat offenders will receive a higher penalty. Presently there is no suggestion that Scotland will follow suit.
So what is the position for an individual who has stepped out onto the road, distracted by their mobile phone, and has been hit by a car? While there is no doubt that there is a duty on the driver to pay attention to the road and be aware of pedestrians, there is also a duty on the pedestrian to take care while crossing the road. In cases involving “distracted walkers” it is likely that it will be argued that the pedestrian has contributed to the accident they were involved in by failing to pay attention to the road while crossing. If this argument is accepted then the pedestrian will be found a percentage to blame for their accident occurring. The percentage will depend on the circumstances of the accident that they were involved in. Any award of compensation would be reduced to reflect this decision.
At Jackson Boyd we have experience of dealing with road traffic accidents, including those involving pedestrians. If you have been involved in a road traffic accident and require any advice or assistance please contact us online by clicking here or speak to a member of our specialist team on 0333 222 1855 .