Road safety experts are increasingly concerned about the near trance-like state people can apparently enter while using mobile phones, MP3 players or electronic personal organisers.
Psychologists call it “divided attention” or “inattentional blindness”.
Some of the worst offenders are pedestrians who not only listen to music with headphones plugged into both ears, but simultaneously punch out text messages or check e-mails as they walk. Cyclists who ride while listening to iPods are also at risk.
Nearly half (47%) of all texting adults say they have sent or read a text message while driving.
75% of mobile-owning adults say they have talked on a cell phone while driving
One in six mobile-owning adults say they have bumped into another person or an object because they were distracted by talking or texting on their phone.
A survey in Queensland, Australia in 2009 suggested that 80% of people aged between 18 and 29 sent text messages while they were walking along the road, and that 73% listened to some kind of MP3 player.
In one study in America mobile phone users were asked if they had noticed a brightly coloured clown (dressed in garish purple and yellow) riding around on a unicycle while they were walking along. 75% said they hadn’t.
The consequences of divided attention
Guernsey’s narrow roads and blind bends means that pedestrians need to not only watch out for traffic before crossing roads, but also listen. Remember the green cross code? Stop, look and listen. By cutting off one of your senses (your ears) you are making yourself very vulnerable – and this also applies to cyclists. Your hearing has a profound effect on your spatial awareness. If you block it off you have very little idea of what’s happening around you.
With traffic at an all time high in Guernsey road users need to concentrate on the road ahead and not be distracted by anything.
Road Safety advice is brought to you by the pedestrian safety charity Living Streets Guernsey LBG.
Contact: Pat Wisher, Secretary of Living Streets: 01481 268088 firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.livingstreets.org.gg