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When Music Kills: A Closer Look at Distracted Walking

walking in the streets of city wearing headphonesIn Los Angeles and throughout California, pedestrians who are distracted by their headphones and earphones aren’t as capable of identifying hazards and reacting appropriately. This leads to serious injuries and sometimes, fatalities.

The exponential growth of technology incorporated into everyday life has proven hazardous in many ways. Distracted driving accidents caused by cellphone usage have spurred new legislation aimed at improving the safety of the roadways. The risks of distracted walking are equally as troubling.

The dangers of distracted walking

Doctors and public safety advocates are urging pedestrians to put away their iPods and cellphones while walking, especially in urban areas like Los Angeles. It might be pleasant to block out the noise of the city, but it’s also dangerous. Getting lost in your music takes your attention away from potential hazards—even if they’re right in front of you. Plus, headphones muffle sounds that can alert pedestrians to dangers, such as honking car horns or the whistle of a train.

The rise of iPod oblivion

Not yet convinced that music can kill you? Here’s a look at the statistics. In 2015, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) commissioned a study on distracted walking. The study questioned 2,000 participants across the U.S. An additional 500 respondents were queried in Los Angeles, as well as 500 participants each in other major cities like Seattle, Houston, and Atlanta. Here’s what the study revealed:

  • 78% of U.S. adults think that distracted walking is a serious problem
  • 74% say that other people are to blame for distracted walking
  • Just 29% admit to engaging in distracted walking themselves
  • 88% see pedestrians listening to music while walking
  • 90% report seeing people use cellphones while walking

In addition, a remarkable four out of every 10 Americans report having personally witnessed some sort of distracted walking incident. Twenty-six percent of study respondents admit to being involved in this type of accident themselves.

In a separate study, published in the medical journal Injury Prevention, researchers revealed a tripling of the number of people who have sustained major injuries or been killed due to listening to music while walking. The researchers discovered that, between 2004 and 2005, there were 16 music-related pedestrian accidents. From 2010 to 2011, there were 47.

These researchers also examined 116 cases of people who were struck by cars and other vehicles while wearing headphones or earbuds. Thirty-four of those pedestrians said they never heard a warning of the impending accident, such as sirens or horns. About two-thirds of those individuals were older than 18, but younger than 30.

Legal representation for injured pedestrians

The personal injury attorneys at Ellis Law have helped plaintiffs in the greater Los Angeles area recover millions in damages for their injuries. During our 20-plus years representing individuals in California, our pedestrian accident lawyers have developed a sterling reputation for compassionate service and aggressive representation in the courtroom. Call 1-800-INJURED today if you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident. Your consultation is free, and we never charge legal fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf.

More info on the dangers of distracted walking:

  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Distracted Walking, http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00748
  2. Daily News, Wearing headphones while you walk is deadly; deaths and serious injuries tripled in past 6 years, http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/wearing-headphones-walk-deadly-deaths-serious-injuries-tripled-6-years-article-1.1007438

5 Most Dangerous Intersections for Pedestrians in Los Angeles

pedestrian accidents increasing in californiaLast year, Curbed called Los Angeles the “most unsafe place for pedestrians” after a study from the Auto Insurance Center found there were 207 pedestrian fatalities caused by vehicles in 2014. LA County led the nation in pedestrian fatalities by more than double Maricopa County, Arizona, which had 91 deaths.

The number of collisions between motor vehicles and walkers jumped 35 percent from 2011 to 2015, and edged up another 3% last year. According to The Daily News, city officials recently discovered “that 6 percent of city streets accounted for nearly 65 percent of deaths and serious injuries to people walking and biking.”

Here are some of the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in LA:

Vincent Street & Pacific Coast Highway – Redondo Beach (90277)

Four pedestrians were fatally hit at this location, which is a few blocks from the beach, a park, two schools, and a library. On December 17, 2014, 55-year-old Margo Bronstein was driving north on the Pacific Coast Highway when her vehicle plowed through a red light into a crowd in the crosswalk at Vincent Street, killing four and injuring several others. The pedestrians were on their way to their cars after attending a Christmas musical pageant at St. James Church. Among those killed were Torrance residents 6-year-old Samuel Gaza; his 36-year-old mother, Martha Gaza; 81-year-old Mary Ann Wilson; and 87-year-old Saeko Matsumura. Police at the scene say the driver appeared sleepy and confused, but prosecutors later determined the amount of medication in her blood was not enough to meet legal minimums for intoxication. Her attorney said Bronstein suffered “an explosion of blinding, excruciating pain” in her spine as she was driving, which caused her to drive through the light. She was sentenced to three years and four months in prison after pleading no contest.

Slauson Avenue & Western Avenue – South LA (90047)

A whopping 41 pedestrians were struck by cars in this intersection from 2002-2013! Six hit-and-run accidents occurred from November 2014 – October 2015. The area includes multiple strip malls bustling with activity. Shops like Cash Express, Little Caesars, Walgreens, Home Depot, Big Lots, and gas stations all converge here. Cars speed down the wide streets as if they’re lanes of a highway. Vehicles are coming out of parking lots in every direction, zipping past children on bikes and old women pushing shopping carts. Pedestrians must traverse 70 feet, across five harrowing lanes of traffic, to reach safety. Urban Planner Deborah Murphy, head of pedestrian advocacy group Los Angeles Walks, says “there is so much work to be done here.” She recommends adding taller buildings or trees that arch into the roadway to narrow drivers’ field of view, instinctively signaling them to slow down. Adding wheelchair and stroller ramps at each crosswalk and installing sharper curbs that force drivers to brake and turn would all help decrease the number of accidents and fatalities, she says.

Hollywood Boulevard & Highland Avenue – South LA (90028)

From 2002-2013, 38 pedestrians were injured by cars, and one of those pedestrians was killed. Seven hit-and-run accidents occurred here from November 2014 – October 2015 alone. This section of LA is heavily trafficked by tourists heading to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Souvenirs of Hollywood, or El Capitan Theatre. Traffic is notoriously slow here and it’s an area that has seen improvements to crosswalks and traffic signals in recent years, but the volume of visitors unfamiliar with the roads makes it a “high risk” intersection nonetheless. Transportation planner and UCLA professor Ryan Snyder recommends adding curb extensions that bump the corners of the sidewalk farther out into the street, eliminating a lane of traffic. This modification would reduce the pedestrians’ crossing distance and risk.

​​Hill Street, between 5th and 6th street – Downtown LA (90013)

Three pedestrians were struck and killed at this downtown intersection. Here you’ll see high rise offices, apartment complexes, and Pershing Square. According to an LA Times analysis, the downtown core has the highest concentration of “dangerous intersections” – there are 48 of them – accounting for 659 injured pedestrians and 11 deaths in the 12-year study period.

Need a pedestrian accident attorney in LA?

In these collisions, motorists were at fault 43% of the time. In many cases, city officials knew of hazards, but failed to act. If you or a loved one were struck by a car while on foot, a Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyer from the Ellis Law Firm can help you build a substantial claim to receive compensation for medical bills, lost time off work, reduced earning capacity, emotional pain and suffering, loss of consortium, disability, and, in the worst cases, funeral expenses.

Call now for a free case review from one of LA’s leading personal injury firms. You pay nothing unless we take the case and win money on your behalf. Andy Ellis has secured more than $250 Million for his clients over the last 20 years.

More on the worst intersections for pedestrians in LA:

Who is Liable when a Bicycle Hits a Pedestrian?

pedestrian hit by bicyclist who is liable ?Los Angeles, California is a relatively dangerous place for pedestrians, compared to the rest of the country. A University of Michigan study on all types of traffic collisions found that 32 percent of fatal crashes in LA involved pedestrians – 10 percent higher than the national average. Most serious pedestrian accidents involve collisions with motor vehicles, but there are still incidents where bicycles strike pedestrians in Los Angeles.

The average bicycle commuter travels at 10 miles per hour, but fitness cyclists can get up to nearly 20 miles per hour. At that speed, the risk of death for a struck pedestrian could be as high as 10 percent. Serious injuries in pedestrian/bicycle collisions include: fractures, concussion, head trauma, internal injuries, spinal cord damage, crushing injuries, burns, deep lacerations, severe cuts, shock, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Working with a California pedestrian accident lawyer can help you establish liability and seek just compensation for your injuries.

How often do bikes hit California pedestrians?

There isn’t a ton of data, but from what we can tell, pedestrian/bike collisions are relatively rare. One state-specific study found that just 0.9% of pedestrian injuries (9 incidents) involved a person on foot colliding with a bicyclist, resulting in injuries significant enough to require treatment at a California medical center. However, that same study found hospital discharge data citing 111 pedestrian and bicyclist injury cases.

Other reports have found that these incidents are significantly underreported. Hunter College professors looking at accidents in New York City say there were more than 500 badly injured pedestrians struck by bicycles in NYC each year. Statewide, the figure was closer to 1,000.

Another analysis by Peter Tuckel and William Wilczarski cited a figure of “1,000 pedestrian/cycle accidents treated annually nationwide” – but researchers admitted that they had only hit “the tip of the proverbial iceberg” because their data did not include injuries treated in doctor’s offices or walk-in urgent care clinics.

Compared to a pedestrian’s 12% chance of being struck by a motor vehicle, the relative risk of injury for bicycle collisions is low. Of course, statistics mean little when you’re the injured party.

Elderly woman struck by hit-and-run cyclist in Glendale, CA

One high-profile felony hit-and-run occurred on October 8, 2016 when a 64-year-old woman was crossing at a marked crosswalk, attempting to enter the shared-use LA River Path at Brand Boulevard and Caruso Avenue in Glendale. The speeding cyclist blew through a red light, knocked the woman down, and kept going. The victim was transported to the hospital with significant head and facial injuries that required surgery and a prolonged hospital stay.

LA pedestrian needs surgery after collision with cyclist

Two years earlier, an elderly woman was struck by a cyclist on the same path. The cyclist stopped to render aid, but the woman had to undergo surgery to repair her broken arm. Though signs, rumble strips, and pedestrian-only paths were added to the park, there’s no guarantee people will heed the warnings.

In NYC, Central Park fatality highlights danger of cyclist/pedestrian crashes

The wife of a CBS executive was struck and killed by a cyclist in Central Park in September 2014. The man who hit her slowed down for one set of traffic lights, but sped through a red light while using a fitness app before hitting the victim, who was placed on life support, and died after three days in the hospital.

Proving liability when you’re struck by a cyclist

To prove a bicyclist’s negligence, your attorney could pursue several different angles to show that:

  • You were lawfully on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk when the bicycle hit you.
  • The bicyclist was distracted at the time, while texting, talking on the phone, using a fitness app, etc.
  • The bicyclist was speeding above the posted speed limit (which can happen in an under-30 zone!)
  • The bicyclist was violating a park ordinance, such as riding in the wrong direction.
  • The bicyclist failed to act “in a reasonable and prudent manner” while riding.

Typically, local municipalities are not considered liable for a pedestrian/bicycle accident. Victims and/or families can sue the individual cyclist to cover medical expenses and other tangible financial losses, pain and suffering, and (in the worst cases) wrongful death. A lawsuit is most often paid out of the cyclist’s personal assets, wage garnishes, or homeowner/renter’s insurance.

How a California pedestrian accident lawyer can help

A Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need to prove your claim when it’s he said / she said. If you do not know who struck you, a legal team can work with police investigators to discover the identity of the perpetrator. Attorneys compile photos of the accident scene and your injuries, track down witness statements, assess police reports, comb through local ordinances and laws, and offer the best advice for legally pursuing compensation. Even before you contact the insurance company, talk to The Ellis Firm in Los Angeles for a free case review. You pay us nothing unless we take on your case and win.

More on “bicycle-pedestrian accidents”:

  1. US Department of Transportation – Injuries to Pedestrians and Bicyclists: An Analysis Based on Hospital Emergency Department Data, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/pedbike/99078/chapter2.cfm
  2. Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, Factsheet, http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm
  3. Pasadena Star News, Dangers of biking in Los Angeles confirmed by Michigan study, http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20121014/dangers-of-biking-in-los-angeles-confirmed-by-michigan-study
  4. Reference, How fast does the average person ride a bicycle? https://www.reference.com/sports-active-lifestyle/fast-average-person-ride-bike-cf053029272716e0
  5. The East Sider LA, Bike Ban Proposed on LA River Path After Elderly Pedestrian Injured, https://www.theeastsiderla.com/2016/10/bike-ban-proposed-on-l-a-river-path-after-elderly-pedestrian-injured-in-elysian-valley-crash/
  6. Daily Mail, Cyclist That Killed CBS Executive’s Wife Spotted Blowing Red Lights, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3100853/Cyclist-killed-CBS-executive-s-wife-Central-Park-year-spotted-blowing-red-lights-son-handlebars.html
  7. Gothamist, Study: Bikes Hit More Pedestrians Than Previously Thought, http://gothamist.com/2011/09/19/pedestrians_are_hit_by_more_bicycli.php

8 Major Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

pedestrian crosswalkAccording to a recent study by the Auto Insurance Center, Los Angeles County leads the nation for the highest rate of pedestrian deaths. Every year, more than 200 people on foot are killed in the greater LA area, and pedestrian knock-downs account for a staggering 33 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the county. Sadly, the majority of these victims are the most vulnerable of our residents: the elderly and children walking to and from school.

In many of these accidents, loss of life was entirely preventable, had both drivers and pedestrians followed the rules of the road, paying attention to their surroundings, particularly near poorly marked crosswalks or high-speed boulevards where collisions are more likely to happen.

More than 70,000 pedestrians are seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents every year. Some collisions are cut and dry when it comes to liability: a drunk driver swerves onto a sidewalk and mows down a teenager walking home from school. In other accidents, determining the at-fault party can be much more complex.

In an effort to reduce the number of needless tragedies, we’ve compiled a list of the leading causes of pedestrian accidents in the United States.

Top 8 causes of pedestrian accidents

  1. Unmarked Crosswalks – Los Angeles County is riddled with poorly and unmarked pedestrian crosswalks, and statistics show that the majority of knock downs occur at busy intersections. Well-marked pedestrian pathways are crucial to reducing the number of accidents and deaths.
  2. Distracted Driving – It’s no secret that our culture has a smart phone addiction, and increasing numbers of collisions are attributed to motorists who are texting, chatting or otherwise distracted while driving.
  3. Distracted Walking – The ‘no texting’ laws should also apply to pedestrians, who are more prone to walking into traffic when using their mobile devices. NYU Langone Medical Center found that 8 percent of NY pedestrian accidents happened while the victim was using their cell phone or iPod.
  4. Improper Lane Use – is among the top culprits in pedestrian knockdowns. Bicyclists who use a pedestrian sidewalk can force walkers into busy traffic.
  5. Left-Hand Turns – Data shows that pedestrians are more than 3 times as likely to be struck by a car making a left-hand turn, compared to a right turn at intersections, as the driver is focused on traffic and the walker is looking straight ahead.
  6. Reduced Visibility at Night – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 70 percent of all pedestrian accidents occur after the sun goes down, when drivers may be less likely to spot someone crossing the street. If you are walking during evening hours, you can protect yourself by carrying a flashlight and wearing bright or reflective clothes.
  7. Alcohol use – Intoxication is a contributing factor in thousands of pedestrian-vehicle accidents, with both parties to blame. The Highway Loss Data Institute reports that in 37 percent of pedestrian fatalities, the victim had a BAC above the legal limit. In comparison, drunk drivers were cited in 13 percent of pedestrian collisions.
  8. More cars on the road – Large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles continue to expand with high-speed, multi-lane roads that are packed with increasing numbers of vehicles. Unfortunately, some of these urban thoroughfares are also used by pedestrians, who are at risk for severe injury or death in the event of an accident.

Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyers

Given Southern California’s temperate weather, walking may appear to be an environmentally-friendly and healthy way to get from point A to point B. It’s important, however, to be cognizant of potential dangers at all times. In the aftermath of any type of serious knock-down and injury, it’s in your best interest to speak with an LA pedestrian accident attorney at Ellis Law. Serving Los Angeles for more than 20 years, our legal team provides professional legal representation for victims of personal injury. Call 1-800-INJURED to schedule a free legal consultation.

Additional Pedestrian Accident Causes Resources:

  1. Safety Resource Center, Why People Get Hit: Eight Causes of Pedestrian Accidents https://www.trafficsafetystore.com/blog/why-people-get-hit-eight-causes-of-pedestrian-accidents/
  2. NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811625
  3. Curbed, LA Is the Most Unsafe Place in the US for Pedestrians http://la.curbed.com/2016/2/3/10942036/los-angeles-most-unsafe-for-pedestrians

How to Avoid a Pedestrian Accident: Top 9 Risk Factors

risk factors in pedestrian accidentsAlthough traffic deaths fell 18% between 2006 and 2015, the number of pedestrians killed during that period rose 12%. Pedestrians being killed by cars is becoming a serious public concern. In 2015, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in car crashes. That’s 15 people every single day of the year.

Plus, the number of pedestrians injured hit 66,000 in 2013, the last year for which statistics are available.

But forewarned is forearmed. It helps to know the top risk factors for pedestrians, so you can be safer and urge others to increase their awareness. Here are the top 9 risk factors.

Pedestrian risk factor #1: Age

Middle-aged pedestrians are at highest risk for being killed in a collision with a car. The average age of pedestrians killed is 47.

Pedestrian risk factor #2: Environment

Of total pedestrians killed, 24% tripped on a cracked or broken sidewalk. An additional 17% tripped and fell on a sidewalk. Avoid sidewalks in obvious disrepair and exercise great care while walking on all surfaces.

Pedestrian risk factor #3: Time of Day

Without a doubt, certain times of day are more dangerous. More pedestrian fatalities happen between the hours between 6 p.m. and 8:49 p.m., no matter the season. Throughout large parts of the year, it is darker outside then, but people are still actively walking. Seventy-two percent of accidents causing pedestrian deaths occur in the dark.

Pedestrian risk factor #4: Day of Week

More pedestrian fatalities — from 3% to 9% — occur on the weekends than on the weekdays.

Pedestrian risk factor #5: Gender

Roughly 70% of pedestrians killed are men.

Pedestrian risk factor #6: Alcohol

Alcohol plays a large role in car accident-related pedestrian deaths. Thirty-four percent of pedestrians killed by a car crash had a blood alcohol count (BAC) of 0.08. Fourteen percent of the drivers did. In other words, excessive alcohol consumption was involved in nearly half of accident-related pedestrian deaths.

Pedestrian risk factor #7: Impact Point

Twenty percent of pedestrians killed in a car accident were killed by a hit-and-run driver. The most common impact point for all pedestrian deaths from car crashes was the front of the vehicle.

Pedestrian risk factor #8: State

Unfortunately, our state of California leads the nation in pedestrian deaths from car crashes, with 701 per year. Florida, with 501 deaths per year, is second. Texas, with 480 annually, is third. By contrast, Washington, D.C. has just 20 car-accident related pedestrian deaths annually.

Pedestrian risk factor #9: City

The largest number of pedestrian deaths from car crashes, 73%, happen in urban areas.

Pedestrians should make sure they are visible

In addition to the factors mentioned above, pedestrians should ensure that they are always visible. Wear bright and light colors and reflective strips so cars can see you. Carry a flashlight. Walk in well-lit areas only. Do not walk where obstacles, trees, or plants may make it difficult to see you.

Contact a pedestrian accident attorney

Ellis Law Firm aggressively represents victims of car accidents. If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed as a result of injuries caused by a car or other type of accident, please contact us today at 1-800-INJURED. We have two decades of experience in California law.

Our consultation is free. A Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyer will perform a thorough case review and advise you of your rights.

Additional pedestrian accident resources:

  1. NHTSA. Traffic Safety Facts. 2013 Data. February 2015. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812124
  2. Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Fact Sheets. http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm
  3. Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Safety Tips for Pedestrians. http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/community/tips_pedestrian.cfm