Pedestrians and cellular distractions

Undoubtedly, the human factor plays a crucial role in road accidents, and in most cases, the drivers are accountable.

But when you look at the grim statistics of road accident fatalities in recent years, it is hard to ignore that pedestrians are another human factor that sometimes contributes to their occurrence. Unfortunately, in accidents involving pedestrians, they pay a higher price. In 2021, 59 people were killed in road accidents; in 2022 the number ascended to 70, and the number of injured was even more significant. Either way, cell phone distractions play a considerable role even in pedestrian accidents.

Distractions affect everyone

Naturally, most of the discourse concerning mobile phone distractions refers to drivers using the device while driving. Still, pedestrians are also prone to distractions, especially the ones caused by cell phones.

Many pedestrians listen to music or podcasts while walking the street without disturbing their surroundings. But when they walk down the road, it puts them in danger and cuts them off from the environment. their sense of hearing- which acts as a safety sensor, is dismissed. Add writing or reading a massage or a post on the screen, and you get complete disconnection – on the road, this disconnection may prove fatal. There is a consensus among experts that one of the reasons for the increasing numbers in pedestrian accidents is a lack of concentration and attention caused by fiddling with the cell phone and ignoring the road.

For example a study carried out by Or Yarok association in 2018 revealed that 1 of 6 pedestrians is immersed in his mobile phone while crossing the road. The association, which specializes in road safety, estimates that the increase in pedestrian casualties is related to this nasty habit.

Do not talk on the phone while crossing the street.

As mentioned, the connection between pedestrian injuries and the irresponsible use of cellular devices has not gone unnoticed by law enforcement authorities. On their recommendation, amendments were added to the traffic regulations that came into effect at the end of January 2021. “A pedestrian will not use the phone for talking, texting or reading while crossing the road, bicycle path or railway, or walking on them.”

The legislator forbids holding a conversation on the phone while walking. So, paradoxically, at least on paper, as far as the law is concerned, it is possible to have a phone call while driving (using the speakerphone), but it is forbidden for pedestrians to talk on the phone while crossing a road, and any police officer who notices a pedestrian with the phone close to his ear (or eye) can give the pedestrian a substantial fine.

In other parts of the world, such legislation has already been introduced, along with effective enforcement. For example, in 2017, the city of Honolulu in Hawaii passed a municipal bylaw prohibiting pedestrians from using mobile phones while crossing the road and accompanied the move with increased enforcement. The city of Sydney and other cities in Australia installed a unique sign on the road that warns pedestrians of the danger.

Will the new legislation actually create a deterrent that will reduce pedestrians’ use of cell phones while crossing the streets, and thus reduce the number of casualties? It’s hard to determine, experience shows that deterrence alone is usually not enough. In any case, we at SaverOne promise to keep following the issue. Who knows, maybe one day a technological solution will be found for this type of mobile distraction as well.