Deaths as the result of distracted driving are on the rise, according to a new study published in Public Health Reports.
Distracted drivers are about 1.6 times more likely as non-distracted drivers to mortally hit a pedestrian at marked crosswalk and about three times as likely to hit a pedestrian walking on the shoulder of a road.
Interestingly, although distracted-driving related fatalities increased among pedestrians and cyclists between 2005 and 2010, distracted-driving related motorcycle fatalities decreased, according to the study. The report’s authors said those numbers mirrored an overall decrease in motor vehicle related fatalities brought about by safer vehicles and roadways.
But while the safety of those inside vehicles has improved, safety for pedestrians and cyclists, especially those traveling in metropolitan areas, is on the decline. For every ten billion vehicle miles traveled, 168.6 pedestrians were killed in 2010, up from 116.1 in 2005. The number of cyclists deaths rose from 18.7 to 24.6 during the same time frame.
In its definition of “distracted driving” the study included texting, using a GPS system, as well as eating and drinking. Laws enacted to prevent drivers from texting or using handheld phones while driving tend to become ineffective a few years after the laws are put into effect, the researchers noted.
Read the study here.