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Soaring pedestrian fatalities blamed on distracted driving

Drivers reading or writing text messages have become a worryingly common sight on the roads of New York, and researchers with a leading road safety group believe that the popularity of mobile devices is the most likely explanation for a troubling increase in pedestrian fatalities in the United States. The number of pedestrians killed on the nation's roads has been growing steadily in recent years, and a report released on March 30 by the Governors Highway Safety Association reveals that this grim trend continued in 2016.

Records of pedestrian deaths have been kept for longer than four decades, and the 6,000 pedestrian fatalities recorded last year make 2016 the worst year on record according to the GHSA. While cheaper fuel and an improving economy have prompted more Americans to get behind the wheel, the resulting increases in vehicular traffic are not nearly significant enough to explain a 22-percent increase in pedestrian fatalities between 2014 and 2016.

GHSA researchers put the recent surge in pedestrian deaths down to cellphones and distracted drivers, and government agencies are coming to the same conclusion. The National Transportation Safety Board, which held a forum on pedestrian safety in 2016, is looking into the cause of the problem and evaluating a number of possible solutions.

Distracted driving crashes can sometimes be challenging for car accident victims and the personal injury attorneys pursuing civil remedies on their behalf. Evidence of impairment or extreme fatigue is difficult to conceal, but there are rarely any lingering signs of distraction. When distraction is suspected and evidence is sparse, attorneys may study the cellphone records of the drivers involved for signs of internet activity at the time of the crash. Attorneys could also check to see if the vehicles involved were equipped with data recorders.

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