Pedestrian safety Heads Up campaign focuses on dangers of distraction while walking

Heads Up is a pedestrian safety awareness campaign created to promote safety practices with road users in our community. This campaign reminds pedestrians that distraction can be fatal.

We all know about the dangers of distracted driving … but maybe we should be concerned about distracted walking, too. Watch where you're going: Texting while walking can be dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians.

Research from a 2010 study by the RSA show two in five (39 per cent ) of pedestrians are often distracted using a phone when walking and one in three admit to often jay walking, however only 14 per cent admit to crossing on a red light. Three in 10 (33 per cent ) wear reflective clothing when out walking.

More and more people are getting injured as a result of walking while using their phones, according to a new study in the US.

Other research in the USA, published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, shows that injuries from so-called "distracted walking" have more than doubled since 2005.

For pedestrians most of the information at a crossing is obtained visually by watching traffic, seeing the markings and signage and observing the signs that indicate when it is safe to walk. Pedestrians who attempt to multitask while talking on a phone have a reduced cognitive capacity to devote to potentially dangerous activities such as crossing streets. The rise in use of personal electronics may be the main ingredient in a recipe for disaster.

Noel Gibbons Road Safety Officer, Mayo County Council commented: “So much attention has been paid, and rightly so, to distracted driving that we have ignored the fact that distracted walking and crossing can be just as risky. From an early age, we all learn how to safely cross the street - look both ways, wait for the green light - but as adults many of us seem to forget those simple rules.

“The fact that drivers and pedestrians continue to engage in dangerous habits, despite claiming to recognise the risk, suggests that a high percentage of road users are taking a cavalier 'it won't happen to me' attitude.”

Researchers found that younger people - between ages 16 and 25 - were most likely to be injured from mobile phone-related distracted walking. And perhaps surprisingly, talking on the phone was linked with more injuries in this age group than from texting on the phone. However, researchers noted that this finding doesn't mean texting-while-walking is safer than talking-while-walking - instead, it might just mean that it's easier to talk while walking, so more people do it. Socialising is tremendously important to teenagers and the new technology keeps them in almost constant contact with their friends and family. It also means they spend a good deal of their time engrossed in this electronic world instead of watching where they are walking.

Electronics are the top culprit for distracted driving, too. Phones are the most common electronic device that distracts drivers on the road.

Heads up pedestrians!

Cross with care. Make eye contact with drivers and wait until traffic has stopped before you cross.

Pay attention. Avoid distractions like texting.

Get noticed! Wear bright clothes and reflective gear, especially in low light or poor weather.

Be predictable. Use official crossings where available. Never jaywalk.

Heads up at junctions!

Don't start to cross on a flashing light or countdown signal. Finish crossing quickly if you've already started.

Heads up drivers!

Be alert for pedestrians at all times, especially at junctions and crossings, and even more so in low light or poor weather.

Pay attention. Avoid distractions like texting.

See and be seen. Make eye contact with pedestrians.

Watch for vehicles slowing down around you. They may be yielding to a pedestrian.

Heads up at junctions!

Follow traffic lights. Pedestrian signals aren't always timed to the light.

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