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Distracted Driving or Walking, Which is More Dangerous?

Distracted driving is an issue that results in a series of accidents. In major cities like Los Angeles in California, distraction may take several shapes. To fight distraction, especially when it causes deadly pedestrian accidents and hit-and-runs, the local police department is making use of billboards to pass on a message of safety.

By partnering with the city’s number one billboard company Clear Channel Outdoor, the LAPD will give drivers the opportunity to learn more about how important being a focused driver is. The main goal is to address the city’s hit-and-run problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 20,000 hit-and-run accidents take place each year in the city alone.

But to safety advocates, the idea of using billboards to alert drivers that they should be focused on the road alone is somewhat confusing. To them, billboards are also unsafe for drivers, since they expose them to unwanted distractions. But the other issue that safety advocates are also confused about is the problem with distracted walking. Too often, pedestrians are involved in serious accidents because they are too distracted by their phones to focus on where they are going.

According to a 2014 Pew Charitable Trusts study, 10 percent of all pedestrian injuries caused in the United States is directly associated with what the organization calls “distracted walking.”

This means that distracted walking and distracted driving, when combined, can turn out to be deadly. For drivers across the nation, understanding these risks could help them to avoid serious accidents.

To police officers across the country, enforcing distracted driving laws alone won’t help them to keep the number of distracted driving accidents low. Awareness could help, but strategies to ensure that all drivers are aware are not concise.

While law enforcement agencies across the country, and especially in Washington, focus on stepping up enforcement, private organizations launch ad campaigns urging drivers to put their phones down. But to safety advocates, more should be done, especially when it comes to pedestrian safety.

Drivers are distracted by many things, but pedestrians can avoid accidents by looking where they are going. If they see a driver behind the wheel is operating his or her car inattentively, the pedestrian is able to avoid being hit by not crossing the street or waiting until the vehicle is gone. Distracted pedestrians are not able to avoid accidents.

If you’re a driver—or a pedestrian—keep in mind that attention to what you’re doing is essential. Stay safe.

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