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Injuries & Headphones: Are Pedestrians Required to Be Aware of Their Surroundings in Colorado?

Posted on February 21, 2022 in

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable population on the road. If a pedestrian gets hit by a motor vehicle, the injuries can be catastrophic. Many pedestrian collisions in Colorado are fatal; in 2017, 92 pedestrians lost their lives in traffic accidents. The number of pedestrian collisions in Colorado has increased significantly in recent years – partly due to distracted walking. Distractions, such as cell phones and headphones, can increase the risk of a pedestrian accident.

Am I Legally Required to Be Aware of My Surroundings in Colorado?

Being aware of your surroundings is a great rule of thumb for any road user, including motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Paying attention to what is going on around you can mean the difference between getting home safely and getting into a serious automobile or pedestrian accident. Being vigilant can help you react to someone else’s mistake in time to allow you to escape harm. It can also reduce your odds of causing a crash yourself.

When it comes to being legally required to pay attention, however, the answer changes depending on the type of road user. If you’re on foot, you are not legally obligated to concentrate on what you’re doing. While it is still wise to pay attention to your surroundings, no law in Colorado requires you to focus on walking or jogging. You have the legal right to use your cell phone, read and send text messages, listen to music, take pictures, eat and drink, and wear headphones as a pedestrian in Colorado.

If you are a motor vehicle driver, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or someone operating a moped or scooter, on the other hand, you are legally required to be aware of your surroundings. Non-pedestrians have the power to injure others; for this reason, they lawfully must pay attention to the road at all times. Colorado has passed specific laws to decrease the risk of distracted driving, such as prohibiting motor vehicle drivers from wearing headphones, texting and driving, and reckless driving.

What Are the Dangers of Wearing Headphones as a Pedestrian?

Although you are legally allowed to wear headphones to listen to music, podcasts, videos, phone conversations or other content while navigating the streets as a pedestrian in Colorado, headphone use is not the safest habit while walking or jogging. Wearing headphones as a pedestrian can put you in danger of walking into a dangerous situation without hearing the warning signs, such as:

  • An oncoming vehicle
  • Yelling or shouting
  • A police officer or crossing guard whistle
  • Horns honking
  • Brakes screeching
  • Emergency sirens
  • An audible crosswalk signal telling you to wait

Being unable to hear your surroundings as a pedestrian can increase the risk of an accident. Since you are at risk of suffering severe to fatal injuries in a pedestrian accident, you should dedicate your full auditory attention to your surroundings. Listen to the people and traffic around you and keep your eyes on the path ahead. Eliminating distractions could help you avoid an accident.

Who Is Responsible for a Pedestrian Accident Involving Headphones?

If you get into a pedestrian accident where the pedestrian was wearing headphones, liability for the collision will most likely go to the motor vehicle driver, since the pedestrian was not legally obligated to pay attention. However, if the pedestrian was distracted enough to break a traffic law, such as jaywalking or crossing without the right-of-way, the pedestrian could be partially responsible for the crash.

Since Colorado has a modified comparative negligence law, both parties can share fault for a pedestrian accident. Even if the pedestrian contributed to the crash by wearing headphones, he or she could still be eligible for partial compensation. If you need legal advice after getting into this type of accident in Lakewood, Colorado, contact an attorney from James L. Finegan, P.C. for a free case evaluation.