A public education campaign to warn pedestrians about the dangers of crossing the road while using a mobile phone should be considered following the recent publication of pedestrian safety research by Austroads.
RACT General Manager Member Assist Darren Moody said it was important to challenge the perception that it was possible to cross the road safely while texting or using the internet. He said that a campaign on the topic should particularly target young people.
'The report noted that pedestrians accounted for 14 per cent of Australia's annual road deaths,' he said. 'And international research suggests that pedestrian distraction from smart phones may lead to greater risk. 'On top of this, ownership of smart phones in Australia is high, suggesting that this may present an emerging road safety challenge.'
The report said that 18 to 30-year-olds were at highest risk, with 30 per cent indicating that they used their smart phones for texting or internet access at risky levels while crossing the road. It also found that up to 40 per cent of all pedestrians may be distracted by mobile phones when crossing the road.
Darren Moody said that countermeasures to combat the issue should include education and engineering interventions at high pedestrian-activity locations. 'Most pedestrian fatalities occur at non-intersection locations,' he said.