Monday, 9 November 2009

I don't want to I won't.

In 2008 there were 572 pedestrians killed and 27,910 injured in the UK. Many suggest that mp3 players and mobile phones are largely to blame. They could be right - as you walk down most streets, it's commonplace now to see people talking on phones or listening to music. In fact for many people, it's unthinkable to walk down a street without one of these to entertain them.
The fact that being a distracted walker is dangerous may seem strange to some, when we are so freely encouraged to plug in our music and call our friends as we walk. Think of any advertising for mobile phones or mp3 players you've seen recently - most of them are set in the street. We trust these companies and assume that they would never encourage something dangerous to make a profit...think again.
Now many young people have an established 'norm' of entertainment whilst you walk. This makes the task of making them realise and understand the dangers a whopper. It makes the task of changing their behaviour almost impossible! Scarily pedestrian accidents are happening more and more frequently making more work for our emergency services and putting other people in danger. Something's got to give.


  1. I think the problem with this is starting with the premise that mp3 players and mobiles are the cause of the statistics above.
    The statistics need to be compared to past statistics of deaths and injuries and what also needs to be looked is the statistics that followed the real "boom" of mp3 players and phones.

    Mobile phones first started to become main stream about 10 years ago, so the data for the past 20 years should be looked at, mobile music devices are not new, the sony walkman was released in 1979 with a myriad of devices following it. This makes the premise less likely to be true.

    Its important that a source is cited for the sentence "pedestrian accidents are happening more and more" to be accepted and then this is only evidence that pedestrian accidents are happening more and more, it in no way singles out the cause.

    From my subjective experience I have used mobile music devices for the majority of my life and would agree that attention can ebb sometimes, however in my experience this is in no way more than if I was looking at a car, member of the opposite sex or something else.

    People need to be able to may a decision regarding when full concentration is needed, pull out your ear phones if you feel you're not completely sure what's on, stop texting when walking near a uncovered man hole cover. But take some responsibility for you actions.

    It is not the companies responsibility to ensure that a person has the right amount of common sense. Alcohol is essentially bad for us and the companies making it know it, however we CHOOSE to drink, understanding what the consequences are going to be (usually a bloody good time), the majority of us have been walking for longer than we have been drinking so should know what happens when not paying attention. If a person falls over while texting, its their fault not Nokias. (I have no affiliation to nokia)

  2. Thanks for your comment. I think you're right about the fact that pedestrians using electronic devices just need to use their common sense.
    But surely many of those who are 'plugged in' may not necessarily be aware of the dangers like the way we are when it comes to drinking alcohol? We all know not to break speed limits but I held a focus group today on the subject and most agreed that road safety advertising is effective because it reminds them of what could happen and forces the dangers to the front of their minds whilst they drive.
    With regards to statistics, almost 1 in 5 teenagers report having been involved in a road traffic collision or near miss on their way home from school or college according to a South Yorkshire Police pedestrian safety campaign ( Of course electronic devices are not the only distraction for pedestrians, but surely young walkers should be aware of the dangers in the same way that drivers should be aware of speed limits?

  3. When I was a child I was taught about the various hazards of walking outside from a number or sources. Primarily my parents but also from school, government PSA's such as Barney the cat.
    Schools regularly visit the "Streetwise safety centre" in dorset which is a fully working street where children in YR 5 are encouraged to idenitfy dangers both on the street and in the home.

    In my opinion by the time a person is old enough to use a portable music device or phone they will have had experience of the street and will also have taken some tumbles becuase of a mistake when walking. All those scrapes and bumps we pick up when we fall as children serve us in the future by reminding us what happens when we do not pay attention.
    Even if I walk down a street without my portable music player, I am being constantly bombarded with huge advertisments, huge LCD televisions in Curry's windows. All designed to get my attention, people need to pay attention when walking along and if you bump into something when your not looking where your going its your responsibility.

    I completely agree that young walkers should be made aware of any hazards, however by labeling it "danger" we make the outside sound dangerous and scary.
    There are already many programs in place which are designed to educate a young person on potential hazards, these should always be revised and modernised but I would not go down the route of putting up signs saying "mp3 player useage is dangerous".

    When a person buys a new computer game they are given advice on when to take a break, a discalimer and advice could also be included when purchasing a new music player, maybe it already is I don't know. In 1999 there were 2942 deaths from road traffic collisions, with 728 ( page 73) being pedestrians, mobile phones were only starting to become avaliable to mass market in 1999 and mp3 players were almost unheard of to the general public at this time.

    The premise that mp3 players and mobile phones are causing an increase in pedestrian accidents appears from the evidence false to me.
    However I agree that it is a distration but one of many, as stated above safety programs need to stay modern and include modern distractions, adverts, phones,mp3 players, flashy cars, talking to your mate when not looking where you are going as things to be aware of when walking in the street.
    I practice free running in the street and do acrobatics on concrete, I'm aware of the dangers though and take a calculated risk, it is my responsibility.

    If we try and dole out blame to the companys making music players where do we stop, if I twist my ankle when running is it the nikes fault? They are running shoes which are encouraging me to run after all.

    So I say yes to up to date safety information about all areas of life for young people, well all people. But not to adding to the blame society that we seem to be nuturing (no win no fee, ring a bell) and taking some responsibility for our actions.

  4. If a distracted walker is hit by a car it is not only the walker who has to deal with the consequences. A number of people could be hurt as a result and these accidents can be easily avoided if walkers take a bit more care. The problem is that not everyone is as responsible as they should be, particularly many young teenagers.

    Whilst I wouldn't say that electronic devices are dangerous and would not want to put out that message, I would say that there are people who use them whilst walking who are not fully aware of the traffic around them because they drown street sounds out with loud music. The fact that it can be dangerous often does not cross their minds. This lack of awareness goes for any kind of distraction in the street like you mentioned. Most of us are very aware and can be trusted to be responsible for our own safety, but I recently spoke to some 15 and 16 year olds who seemed completely oblivious to the dangers and said that they turn up their music to drown 'everything' out, daydream as they walk and even admitted to having nearly been hit by cars as a result...then shrugging it off and saying it doesn't bother them. They don't consider themselves part of the traffic at all. These are the people who we need to get a message to. The problem is how to change their behaviour, as telling them the dangers doesn't seem to be working.

  5. I know that this is old...but if you are still thinking about this, both Jackson and Beth have missed one of hte key things. With earbuds in, no competing noise gets through to the walker. A bicycle bell, car horn, pedestrian crossing audio warning, a reversing alarm- none of these become audible. You wouldn't try to cross a road blindfolded, but you have a chance if you listen hard for the sound of cars coming. Lose the ears, and you lose a key protection.

  6. Wow I had no idea the figure was so great...
    I must admit, before I broke my iPod it was most definitely impossible to go further than a 5 minutes walk without it and now, the phone has to be with me so I can phone somebody or tweet away!
    There was also a morning where I nearly got hit by a car because my iPod was on full volume and I was looking down changing the song. It was by complete chance that I decided to look up, only to see a car speeding at me!
    That morning I was lucky but other people may not be so lucky...People need to be sensible and make sure that they have their music at a suitable volume so they are still aware of any possible dangers surrounding them! Like you said, it won't be the pedestrian who has to deal with the consequences, or the guilt, it will be the driver.
    All one has to do is remember what those little hedgehogs taught us about crossing the road in those adverts!