Distracted driving is a major issue on Australian roads and in particular mobile phones as a distraction for drivers who are texting, making calls or checking notifications. Various awareness campaigns have recently launched across the country to try and combat this serious road issue. However, another danger associated with the use of mobile phones is pedestrians who are distracted by their phones when crossing the road. This is a major concern not only for pedestrians but also for drivers who now need to ensure they are accounting for any unaware pedestrians, particularly in inner-city and suburban areas.
According to the NSW Centre for Road Safety, Pedestrians account for approximately one in seven road deaths in NSW. Although there is no exact data to confirm the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured as a direct result of being distracted by their mobile phones, every day thousands of hurried pedestrians are seen darting across the road with their heads buried in their phones. Many pedestrians use their phone when crossing the road without even realising it. Today, we are so attached to our devices that sometimes we don’t realise the importance of putting our phones away in dangerous circumstances.
The Pedestrian Council of Australia has urged the Australian government to crack down on distracted pedestrians by issuing a $200 fine for listening to music or texting when crossing the road. Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia Mr Harold Scruby believes that enforcing punishment is the only way to reduce the incidence of pedestrian based accidents, “I think if most people got a $200 fine they would think twice about doing it again,” Mr Scruby said.
So what does this issue mean for drivers who are travelling in inner-city and suburban areas? At Corporate Driver Training Australia, we teach our course participants the importance of being aware of their surroundings at all times, whether it is the car in front or pedestrians who are distracted on the side of the road. You can never predict when pedestrians might choose to enter the road and with an increasing number of pedestrians being distracted and making risky decisions, it is important to assume that not everyone will make safe choices.