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Blog: Eyes down to be a walkie-talkie mobile phone casualty

09:18 09 November 2015

Distraction danger: Lives are being put at risk by people crossing roads while using mobile phones.

Distraction danger: Lives are being put at risk by people crossing roads while using mobile phones.

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Walk the walk, don’t talk the talk. Pedestrians are putting themselves – and other road users – at risk using mobile phones while negotiating busy street, warns motoring editor Andy Russell.

While sitting at traffic lights this week a group of four teenagers crossed the road, chattering away and looking at their mobile phones and completely oblivious of the car turning into the same road.

The first they knew of it was when he jammed on the brakes, stopping inches away from them. I was glad it didn’t end in a potential tragedy but I felt sorry for the driver who would not have seen them until he was turning the corner. Had he hit them, it would not have been his fault but that would have been no consolation to him.

He didn’t make a big issue out of it and start hooting or shouting at them – instead he just raised his hands and shrugged his shoulders. It was a gesture that said it all and, judging by the youngsters’ hands raised in apology and clearly mouthing “sorry” I think, and hope, they got the message that they’d had a lucky escape.

It’s a common scenario but, while it’s bad enough people bumping into you while walking along a pavement looking down at their phones, it’s really dangerous when crossing roads.

And new research claims most 18 to 24-year-olds are putting their lives in danger by using their mobile phones while crossing roads.

A frightening 86% of these young people across Europe admitted in a Ford study to using their phones while crossing the street, with 68% saying they’ve talked on the phone, 62% having listened to music and 34% have been typing text.

And 22% have either been hit by traffic or have had a near-miss. Road accidents are the leading cause of death among the 18 to 24-year-olds.

According to a separate investigation by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), 23% of road accidents involving pedestrians in the UK during 2013 happened in circumstances where the pedestrian failed to look properly, was either careless or reckless, or otherwise in a hurry.

As part of Ford’s research, the company asked for opinions on automated braking technology – specifically systems that can detect errant pedestrians and hit the brakes automatically. According to Ford, most people said they felt safer with that safety net than without it. Ford also provides Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) training for young drivers.

Jim Graham, the manager of the initiative, said: “It’s one thing to walk along the pavement with headphones on listening to music, but stepping into a road while texting, playing a game or browsing online is extremely dangerous.

“Our training makes students more aware of their surroundings both as a driver and a passenger, so hazards can be anticipated earlier.”

So at least drivers will be aware of idiots on phones and prepared for their stupidity... until we all evolve to have an extra eye in the top of heads so we can see where we’re going while also looking down at our mobile phones!

That’s wishful thinking, and highly unlikely, so instead let’s just look where we’re going at all times.

Tell us you views on the dangers of mobile phones – email motoring@archant.co.uk

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