Pedestrian fatalities have increased in Tennessee and experts say distractions are likely to blame.

Tennessee's roads are becoming more dangerous for pedestrians, mirroring a troubling trend that has been seen nationwide. According to the Nashville Patch, pedestrian fatalities in Tennessee increased by about seven percent last year and the state was one of 34 that saw an increase in fatal pedestrian accidents in 2016. The increase is alarming and while a number of explanations have been offered, experts say one likely culprit is distracted driving and walking caused by cellphones.

Pedestrian accidents increase

The study by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that during the first six months of 2016 there were 46 pedestrian deaths in Tennessee, up from 43 deaths during the same period in 2015. Using those figures, the report extrapolated that overall pedestrian fatalities increased by approximately seven percent in the state in 2016.

While that increase is troubling, Tennessee is hardly unique in seeing pedestrian deaths go up. In fact, 34 states witnessed an increase in pedestrian fatalities and nationwide pedestrian deaths increased by an alarming 11 percent, the largest such increase recorded in four decades. As CBS News reports, that's nearly double the increase in overall traffic fatalities, which were up by six percent last year.

Distracted driving and walking

At least part of the reason why pedestrian deaths are up is because more people are choosing to walk and bike, while lower gas prices and an improving economy have also led to an increase in overall motor vehicle traffic. As a result, there are simply more opportunities for accidents involving pedestrians to happen. Additionally, intoxication remains one of the leading causes of pedestrian fatalities, with 34 percent of pedestrians and 15 percent of drivers intoxicated in fatal pedestrian accidents.

However, experts caution that the dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths far outpaces the increase in pedestrian or vehicular traffic. Furthermore, alcohol-related pedestrian deaths, while still high, have not increased. Instead, those experts suspect that distractions may be what is really driving the dramatic surge in serious accidents. Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, both distracted driving and distracted walking have become major road safety issues in recent years. Distracted driving, while hard to measure, is now believed to be one of the leading causes of traffic accidents.

Personal injury law

Being involved in an accident, especially as a pedestrian, can be a horrifying and painful experience. Pedestrians and other vulnerable road users tend to suffer especially catastrophic injuries when they are in an accident. A personal injury attorney can help anybody who has been hurt in a crash understand what legal options they may have. In many cases, accident victims may be able to pursue financial compensation to help cover expenses related to medical treatment, lost income, and property damage. An attorney can help victims file a claim and pursue whatever compensation that may be entitled to.