Are you a distracted walker?

22 February 2011

With more than a third of SA pedestrians texting or using an MP3 Player while on the go, SGIC is urging people to be alert around busy streets and traffic*.

The insurer’s survey also found that one in five drivers have had a near miss with a pedestrian who was distracted by their mobile phone or MP3 Player.

SGIC spokesperson Emily Gatt said technology encourages us to split our attention between two activities which can be risky when walking around busy streets.

“We found that over 80 per cent of SA residents are using a mobile phone or MP3 Player for up to one hour a day.

“We understand technology is a handy and important part of our everyday lifestyles, however we’re concerned that people are too busy texting or lost in their music to be aware of their surroundings when out and about.

“Hearing is critical to safety on the roads both as a driver and pedestrian, if you have your head down texting or are listening to music, you’re not likely to hear car horns and emergency sirens as well as be alert to traffic conditions,” said Ms Gatt.

SGIC research also showed that about 10 per cent of pedestrians admitted to having a near miss with a car or bus because they were distracted by their mobile phone or MP3 Player. Pedestrians account for nearly one in every ten road fatalities in SA**.

“As it’s that time of year where many of us are out jogging and walking, we suggest you avoid using your MP3 player so you’re alert, but if you do decide to listen to some music then try and turn the music down low so you can hear traffic noise and watch out for traffic lights and crossings.

“We also want to urge SA drivers to always be aware of pedestrians around traffic, they may unexpectedly step out and the worst could happen,” said Ms Gatt.

SGIC recommends the following tips:

  • Look up regularly if you need to use your mobile phone to text while walking or consider stopping;
  • If you are going to listen to music while on the go, then turn the volume down low so you can hear what’s going on around you;
  • As a driver, be aware of pedestrians that may be distracted as their walking and texting or listening to music;
  • Apply the same commonsense that you do as a driver to being a pedestrian – be alert at all times.

* Based on a survey of 500 SA pedestrians and drivers by Pure Profile Research in February 2011.