New AA Research highlights the Danger of Pedestrian Smartphone Distraction

April 14, 2016

72% of drivers have stated that they see pedestrians stepping out into the road whilst distracted by their phone, according to one of the latest AA-Populus polls. The poll took into account the views of 24,070 members and brings to light the danger of smartphone distraction for pedestrians.

The AA has previously discussed this issue in relation to older technology, with the coining of the term ‘iPod Zombies’ in 2009 but this has since moved up a gear and they’re piggybacking on the German term ‘smombies’ (smartphone zombies) to get across their message and highlight a very real danger.

The AA Poll found that 70% of those surveyed have often seen pedestrians distracted by their smartphone and then stepping into the road whilst 66% have seen pedestrians wearing headphones stepping into the road and 78% of young drivers surveyed claimed they often see pedestrians stepping into the road whilst distracted by their smartphones. According to this poll pedestrian phone distraction is most likely in London where 80% of respondents claim to have seen the dangerous distracted behaviour.


Increased Risk of Pedestrian Fatalities

The government figures show that pedestrians accounted for 75% of the increase in fatalities in the United Kingdom in between 2013 and 2014 and pedestrian fatalities increased 12% from 2013 to 2014. In addition to this AA patrols have noted an increase in the number of ‘smombies’ and joggers seemingly oblivious to the amount of traffic around them as they cross busy roads wearing headphones or engrossed in their smart phone. It is believed that pedestrians’ lack of attention may have played a role in as many as 446 pedestrian deaths in 2014.

Around the world governments are responding to the smartphone obsession with Antwerp in Belgium offering ‘text walking lanes’ for mobile phone users and in San Francisco there are phone-free areas in some parks.

Speaking on behalf of the AA, President Edmung King OBE commented: “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.”

It goes without saying that you should never wear headphones whilst at the wheel of your vehicle and it is also necessary to drive at a safe pace in area where there are high numbers of pedestrians and cyclists. When wearing headphones as a pedestrian it is equally important to ensure the volume doesn’t dull your other senses and you are using the roads in a safe and sensible manner.

photo credit: london via photopin (license)