Taking a walk in California can become unexpectedly dangerous when a negligent or distracted driver causes a severe crash. There has been a rise in the number of pedestrian deaths in fatal motor vehicle accidents, and some experts note that an increase in distracted driving may be a major cause of the change. Since 2009, traffic deaths overall have risen by 11 percent, but pedestrian fatalities have grown by 46 percent in the same time frame.

The rise of the smartphone plays a major role in distracting both drivers and pedestrians. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of mobile phones in use in the United States has grown by 236 percent between 2010 and 2016. Those phones have also become much more powerful and offer a wide range of distracting apps, games and communication technologies. It is easy for a text message, email or video to divert a driver’s attention from the road ahead. However, the consequences of a momentary distraction can be catastrophic.

It should be noted that car crashes caused by distracted driving aren’t only linked to smartphones. Many newer vehicles have been engineered for safety, offering designs that are meant to protect both drivers and pedestrians in a crash. At the same time, those vehicles often contain powerful entertainment and navigation systems. Their touchscreen interfaces can be distracting for some drivers as well. One study of motor vehicle “infotainment” systems found that all of them distract drivers at some level.

When people walk down the street, their lives could be at risk due to distracted driving. Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents can easily lead to fatalities or severe injuries. People who have been injured in crashes due to dangerous driving can work with a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for the harms they have suffered, including medical bills and lost wages.