The machines have struck another blow against humanity, as CNN reports the number of pedestrian fatalities has greatly increased—and it could be thanks to our smartphones. The Governors Highway Safety Association has compiled data from 50 state highway safety offices, as well as the District of Columbia. And it estimates there were 6,000 pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2016. That number is the highest it’s been in more than 20 years, and while our technology addiction hasn’t been confirmed as the culprit, it’s almost certainly a factor.
Richard Retting wrote the report, and he says that while his organization “[doesn’t know all the reasons” for the increase in pedestrian fatalities, it’s clear that “lots of things are contributing. But not one of these other factors have changed dramatically.” Retting’s referring there to the sharp rise in wireless data/smartphone use, which, according to the Wireless Association, doubled in volume from 2014 to 2015. Cutting back on smartphone time during your commute is advisable for both drivers and pedestrians, because, as Retting says, “Somebody staring at their phone for two seconds at 40 mph has covered a very long distance. It’s not hard to imagine a pedestrian at the wrong place, wrong time, never being seen by the driver.”
CNN does note that most pedestrian fatalities happen at night, in vehicle-only parts of the road; only one in five occur at intersections, but we should probably still look up directions or fire off that text before heading out.