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What are the Dangers of Distracted Walking? Is Distracted Walking Illegal in California?

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Is Distracted Walking Illegal in California?

Is Distracted Walking Illegal in California?

Nov 10, 2021

We’ve all heard about the dangers of distracted driving, but did you know that another form of distraction causes hundreds of pedestrians to be treated in emergency rooms every year?

Is Distracted Walking Illegal in California?

Distracted walking (also referred to as “twalking” – for texting while walking) is known to cause car accidents, serious injuries, and even fatalities. And distracted walking isn’t just a problem impacting pedestrians, drivers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and all others sharing the roads.

Distracted walking can also cause people to fall down stairs, walk into doors or walls, and even walk through glass.


Let’s take a look at what distracted walking entails, review the dangers, and examine how many accidents are believed to be caused by walkers and pedestrians looking at their phones or tablets. Additionally, we’ll provide information on how to file a personal injury civil claim in pursuit of financial compensation in the event of an unfortunate distracted walking accident.

What is Considered Distracted Walking?

Distracted walking can refer to any instance where a someone is traveling on foot while not paying attention due to anything from talking on a cell phone to texting to listening to music and even just conversing with another person. Distracted walking typically refers to pedestrians who fail to heed traffic signals or step into traffic without looking for oncoming cars, trucks, etc. But distracted walking can also refer to anyone who causes an accident – falling down stairs, for example – as a result of not paying attention (typically while using one’s cell phone).

What are the Dangers of Distracted Walking?

Distracted walking can lead to a number of serious injuries for the individual, but it can also cause accidents that impact others. Car, truck, motorcycle, scooter, and pedestrian accidents are just a few examples of how distracted walking can impact others – often resulting in serious injuries or, in tragic cases, deaths.

Distracted walking can cause you to trip over a curb, miss a step, or fall into a hazard. Any of these scenarios can lead to serious injuries. Some common injuries caused by walking while distracted by a cell phone or mobile device include:

  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Head trauma or concussion (MTBI)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Lacerations
  • Back injury
  • Neck injury
  • Catastrophic injury
  • Death

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a distracted walker, you may be eligible to recover substantial financial compensation through a civil claim. Injured victims may be able to file claims for a number of economic and non-economic damages related to their injuries.

What Causes Distracted Walking Car Accidents?

What Causes Distracted Walking Car Accidents?
Distracted walking car accidents can be caused when a pedestrian is not paying attention to roadway signals or oncoming traffic due to their focus being on a cell phone or other mobile device. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicyclists, and scooters may swerve to avoid hitting a distracted pedestrian only to end up colliding with another motor vehicle or striking a piece of property and causing a serious accident.

How Many Accidents are Caused by Distracted Walking?

According to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distraction contributes to large numbers of crashes, fatalities, and injuries each year. In 2014, the NHTSA reported that 3,179 fatalities and an estimated 431,000 injuries were due to “distraction-affected crashes.” Moreover, 10% of fatal crashes, 18% of injury crashes, and 16% of all motor vehicle traffic crashes were reported as resulting from distraction in 2014, according to the NHTSA. Additionally, the NHTSA confirmed through a literature review on pedestrian safety that “distraction among pedestrians also is a contributor to pedestrian safety risk and often leads to serious injury, although the exact number of distraction-related pedestrian injuries is difficult to estimate.

The NHTSA does not keep data specifically related to distracted pedestrians at the current time. However, the organization notes that cellphone usage is likely the cause of a significant increase in pedestrian accident injuries and fatalities.

“The growing use and influence of technology has the potential to endanger pedestrians more than in years past. In 2012, more than 1,500 pedestrians nationwide were treated in emergency rooms as a result of being injured while walking and engaged in cell phone conversations, which was more than twice the number reported in 2005, even though the total number of pedestrian injuries dropped during that time period,” the NHTSA’s safety report confirmed.

Is Texting While Walking/Distracted Walking Illegal in California?

While distracted driving behaviors such as texting while behind the wheel are banned in nearly every state, distracted walking has led to some proposed legislation but little action on the part of lawmakers.

In 2018, Honolulu became the first major city to target distracted walkers with fines. Arkansas, Illinois, and Nevada have proposed similar legislation aimed at cracking down on distracted walkers with citations, but all measures have been unsuccessful. New York also proposed distracted while walking legislation in 2019, but the bill has yet to pass.

Although distracted walking is not currently banned in California as a statewide measure, one Golden State city has adopted fines for walkers who look at their phones while crossing the street. In January 2018, Montclair, California, – a small town about 30 miles outside of Los Angeles – passed a “distracted walking” law mandating that officials fine people “focused on the screen instead of the road,” according to a Business Insider report.

In Montclair, anyone caught breaking the ordinance, Municipal Code 8.28.020 (A), will be fined $100 the first time, $200 the second time, and $500 for each infraction after that.
In Montclair, anyone caught breaking the ordinance, Municipal Code 8.28.020

The youth admit that they are distracted by their cellphones,” Edward Starr, Montclair’s City Manager, told the Los Angeles Times shortly after the distracted walking measure was implemented. “This has turned out to be a reminder for them that their lives are on the line.

Can I File a Lawsuit if I was Injured by a Distracted Walker?

When a pedestrian is distracted by a cell phone or mobile device and causes a car, truck, or other type of accident, they have breached what’s known as a duty of care in personal injury law. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver – whether as a car, truck, motorcycle, scooter, or other type of motor vehicle driver or passenger – you may be eligible to recover financial compensation through a civil lawsuit with the experienced attorneys at Dordulian Law Group (DLG).

A personal injury civil claim can help injured distracted walking victims obtain a financial damages award for applicable losses (also known as damages). Some common damages that may be recoverable after a distracted walking accident include:

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

Economic Damages:

  • Hospital or medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Physical therapy expenses
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost earning capacity

Non-Economic Damages:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Emotional trauma
  • Psychological distress

For a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation with a distracted walking accident lawyer from DLG, contact us today at 818-322-4056. Our team of dedicated and proven California personal injury attorneys will fight to recover you the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your distracted walking accident injury.


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