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The digital age and road safety

In today’s digital age, smartphones have become an integral part of our lives. We use them to stay connected with friends and family, access information, stay entertained, and working on the move. However, the universal use of smartphones has led to a concerning trend of distracted walking, particularly while crossing the road. In Australia, this has become a significant issue, and it is essential for individuals to be aware of the dangers of using their phones whilst walking.

According to a study conducted by the Australian Road Safety Foundation, pedestrian distraction is a significant contributor to pedestrian road fatalities. The study found that 34% of pedestrians are distracted while crossing the road, with smartphone use being the leading cause of distraction. This is a worrying trend, as distracted pedestrians are more likely to ignore traffic signals and put themselves and others in danger.

In recent years, several accidents have occurred due to pedestrians using their phones while crossing the road. These accidents have led to severe injuries and even fatalities. In response, several initiatives have been launched in Australia to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted walking.

Despite these efforts, many people continue to use their phones while crossing the road, influenced by the pressures of deadlines, remote working, or just  the belief that they can multitask or that they will not be affected by distractions. However, research has shown that even a momentary distraction can have severe consequences. For example, a pedestrian who is distracted by their phone for just two seconds while crossing a road can increase their risk of being hit by a car by up to 80%.

To stay safe while crossing the road, pedestrians in Australia should avoid using their phones altogether. If it is essential to use your phone, such as for an emergency call or to access GPS directions, find a safe place to stop and use your phone. Pedestrians should also pay attention to traffic signals and look both ways before crossing the road, even when using a designated pedestrian crossing.

To avoid the dangers of distracted walking, it’s important to make a conscious effort to stay present and aware of your surroundings when crossing the road. Here are a few tips to help you break the habit of looking at your phone while walking:

  1. Make a plan: If you know you’ll need to use your phone while you’re out, plan ahead to take breaks in safe locations. For example, if you’re walking to a destination, plan to stop and check your phone once you’ve safely crossed the street.
  2. Turn off notifications: If you’re worried about missing important messages or updates, try turning off notifications while you’re out and about. This can help you resist the temptation to constantly check your phone.
  3. Hold your phone in your pocket or bag: If you don’t need to use your phone while you’re walking, keep it out of sight by storing it in your pocket or bag. This will help you resist the urge to check it while you’re crossing the road.
  4. Look up and pay attention: When you’re approaching a crosswalk or intersection, put your phone away and look up. Pay attention to the traffic signals, the sounds of approaching cars, and the movements of other pedestrians around you.

In conclusion, distracted walking is a significant issue in Australia, with smartphone use being a leading cause of pedestrian fatalities. To stay safe while crossing the road, pedestrians should avoid using their phones and pay attention to traffic signals. By being more mindful, pedestrians can reduce the risk of accidents and stay safe while navigating the roads.

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