Virginia lawmakers may have just approved a measure to crack down on distracted driving, but the Commonwealth has another problem with preoccupied residents in the form of distracted pedestrians.
While this challenge has not garnered the attention of texting while driving, more Virginians are dying because of mobile devices and a lack of awareness.
In 2011, Virginia had 75 pedestrian fatalities. A year later, the number rose significantly to 101.
Why? Sunni Brown, with the Department of Motor Vehicles, says although the onus is on the driver to always be mindful of pedestrians, those on foot should not be oblivious to where they're walking—especially when they're using a handheld device to text, email, or play music.
"We believe that distracted walking can be just as dangerous as distracted driving and we're really encouraging folks when they're out and about walking, to attention to what's going on around them," said Brown.
And Brown says some of the same factors attributed to automobile wrecks are also attributed to many of these pedestrian accidents:
"One of the things that we've noticed is that the majority of these fatalities are occurring between the hours of 3pm and midnight and also, a lot of these fatalities have been attributed to pedestrian drinking."
Brown says fewer people are using crosswalks, and they should avoid crossing in areas without one present. Also, she advises people to walk against traffic so that they can see what an oncoming vehicle is doing. And if they’re walking in the dark, pedestrians should wear light clothing and use a flashlight.