With darker evenings on the horizon, pedestrians in Essex are being warned of the ‘obvious and tangible’ dangers of being distracted by a smartphone while walking alongside roads.
In the last two years, 503 pedestrians were killed or seriously injured on Essex roads. In almost half of these collisions, distraction was identified as a cause.
Meanwhile, 33% of adult pedestrians killed or seriously injured during the same period were involved in collisions during hours of darkness – despite much lower numbers of pedestrians and cars on the road at night.
With the clocks going back last Sunday (27 October), the Safer Essex Roads Partnership has launched a new pedestrian safety campaign – in a bid to highlight the issue of distracted walking.
#StopScrollingStartLiving aims to highlight the dangers of being glued to a smartphone while walking.
The campaign film reinforces the need to stay alert and avoid distractions in everyday life – but more crucially, when crossing the road.
Nicola Foster, chair of the Safer Essex Roads Partnership, said: “Research has shown a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of those who use social media extensively, but there’s also a more obvious and tangible danger of distracted walking and we are urging pedestrians, and all road users, to take note.
“We’ve all seen people not looking where they’re going whilst glued to their mobile phones.
“Maybe they’ve bumped into you, maybe they’ve made you brake sharply at junctions. But combine that with alcohol, wearing dark clothing and not using a designated crossing, the risk increases significantly for pedestrians.
“Our advice is, always use pedestrian crossings and be safe, be seen! Try to ensure you’re visible to motorists.
“Fluorescent materials are most effective during the day and reflective materials at night, however torches can also increase your visibility. Our road safety staff will be handing them out at ‘Surround a Town’ events.
“Please take extra care when under the influence of alcohol – you are more likely to make errors of judgement or behave in a way that could lead you to become involved in a collision.
“And key to this campaign, don’t get distracted. Listening to an iPod, chatting to friends or sending a text while crossing the road will distract you and put you in danger.”