Pedestrian accidents fall into two categories — vehicle-related and non-vehicle related. Vehicle-related accidents are the most common as pedestrians cross busy streets, walk in urban spaces and unmarked rural areas, and negotiate traffic. It is very common for walkers of all ages to get hit by vehicles in both traffic-related and non-traffic related circumstances. Non-vehicle related accidents are less common, but with increased cell phone use are becoming more usual. Distracted walking can cause a pedestrian to walk in front of a moving car, step into a pothole or crack, trip or fall over curbs or detritus, and collide with a sign post or another distracted walker.
If road users are classified conventionally into car occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists, occupants of heavy goods vehicles, occupants of public service vehicles, and pedestrians, then in terms of traffic fatalities pedestrians constitute the largest single group. Worldwide, some 270,000 pedestrians die each year (2020 data); that is around one fifth of all road traffic deaths. In the USA, they account for 18% of fatalities, UK 41%, Poland 46%. No firm data are available from countries where the car is present only in relatively small numbers, but in those very countries it is pedestrians who predominate as the main victims of traffic accidents.
Smartphone texting has been linked to compromised pedestrian safety in a 2020 study published in the journal Injury Prevention. According to research conducted by Canadian researchers, there are higher rates of ‘near misses’ and failure to look left and right before crossing a road while texting or talking on the phone. The percentage of distracted pedestrians ranged from 12 per cent to 45 per cent over the eight studies, and behaviours were also influenced by gender, time of day, whether crossing solo or as a group and walking speed. The researchers found that listening to music did not increase the risk of harm or death to pedestrians.