‘Smartphone zombies’ a risk to pedestrian safety

12.00 | 12 April 2016 |

Almost three quarters (72%) of drivers often see pedestrians step into the road while distracted by their phone, according to a new AA-Populus poll.

In the poll, based on more than 24,000 AA members, 66% of respondents said they often see pedestrians step into the road while wearing headphones.

As a result of the finding, the AA is urging motorists to ‘beware the march of the ‘smombie’ – the smartphone zombie and the walking wi-fi dead’.

The survey results, published on 4 April, also highlighted regional differences, with pedestrian phone distraction most likely in London (80%) and least likely in Eastern England (67%), South West (68%) and Wales (69%).

Government figures show that pedestrians accounted for three quarters of the increase in road deaths in Great Britain between 2013 and 2014. In the same period, pedestrian fatalities increased by 12% from 398 to 446.

Previous analysis from AA Insurance suggests that ‘pedestrian inattention’ could be the cause of 17 collisions each day.

Edmund King OBE, AA president, first raised the issue of ‘iPod Zombies’ in 2009. The AA says the phenomenon has moved with the technology and zombies have transformed into ‘smombies’ or smartphone zombies.

Edmund King said: “We can’t stop the march of technology but we need to halt the pedestrian, cycle and driver zombies.  Whether on two feet, two wheels or four, too many people are suffering from Smartphone Oblivion.

“When on the move our brains have much to take in and using technological gadgets means that we can’t always concentrate on so many things at once.  

“This is when we walk into traffic; don’t hear the truck or drive cocooned from the outside world.

"Our research suggests this problem is growing so we all need to use common sense to ensure that technological cocooning doesn’t endanger our lives or the lives of others.”

Photo: Kerry Lannert, via Flickr. Use under Creative Commons act.


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