Smartphones + an increase in pedestrian deaths and injuries

Last week, I came upon the aftermath of a pedestrian-vehicle collision in Seattle.

Seattle-pedestrian-crash_pedestrian deaths increase-Coluccio Law

I don’t know the facts or circumstances of this incident.

But it reminded me of yet another in a series of articles I’ve read recently about the alarming uptick in pedestrian deaths.

“Pedestrian fatalities have risen 46 percent since 2009

while overall traffic deaths are only up 11 percent.”

Pedestrian deaths are up 35% more than overall traffic deaths (although an 11% increase is no small matter.)

And it is worth asking: why?

Constant smartphone use has become a social pattern.

The NHTSA says that no studies show “a direct link between the behavioral effects of distraction and pedestrian crash risk.”

Nevertheless, it has become clear to me that there is a common theme – distracted driving or distracted walking – is the likely cause of the increase in pedestrian deaths and injuries.

When it comes to distraction, the proliferation of the smartphone is central to the crisis.

The Governors Highway Safety Association has noted that the number of active cellphones in use in the U.S. between 2010 and 2016 increased by 236 percent.

Cellphones in use in the U.S. between 2010 and 2016 increased by 236%.

These statistics correlate with the changes I have seen in my own law practice.

It has become a regular occurrence that Coluccio Law receives calls from family members of innocent people who were killed or seriously injured by a car or truck.

I have worked on more pedestrian fatality cases in the last few years than at any other point in my career.

Nearly every one of those killed or injured were legally in a crosswalk, with the right of way.

It wasn’t their fault.

But that fact is little comfort to their families, who are dealing with the pain of a sudden and violent death.


Adriana Brown-Crash Anniversary


She had the “walk” sign.

She was in the crosswalk, halfway across the street.

One year later: remembering Adriana Brown



Blaming the victim

Insurance company lawyers who defend the negligent drivers are quick to assign blame to a pedestrian who is looking at their phone or wearing earbuds. 

The truth is, people are often caught off guard because they have the right of way, and are in the perceived safe zone of a marked crosswalk.

They assume that drivers will respect pedestrians, and will fulfill their duties as safe drivers.

I wish that this was true.

But drivers are often distracted, and pedestrians are far more exposed to danger than people in motor vehicles.

It isn’t fair, but it is much safer to pay attention to the vehicles around you, instead of your smartphone.

Be safe and stay alert!


– Attorney Kevin Coluccio


Pedestrian deaths-#crashnotaccident

I understand that distracted drivers cause far more harm than distracted pedestrians.

At Coluccio Law, we believe it’s time to change the way we think and speak about driving.

That’s why we say “crash” instead of “car accident”—and you should, too.


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