Victoria

Fatal distraction: Pedestrians urged to ignore the phone and focus on the road ahead

Authorities are urging Victorians to pay attention around roads and avoid getting distracted by their phones.

Transport Accident Commission chief executive Joe Calafiore said 196 pedestrians had been killed on Victoria's roads over the past five years, with distraction emerging as a major factor.

Pay attention: Pedestrians are being told to watch the road, not their phones.
Pay attention: Pedestrians are being told to watch the road, not their phones. Photo: Paul Jeffers

"That number is far too high and we have to do something about it," he said.

"Victorians are starting to get the message when it comes to the dangers of driving while on the phone but unfortunately too many people seem unaware of how dangerous distraction can be when you're on foot."

Red light spells danger. If you notice it that is.
Red light spells danger. If you notice it that is. Photo: Chris Hopkins

Victoria Police and TAC want pedestrians to put away their phones when walking on the streets, especially around shopping centres and in the CBD, and in the evening between 6pm and 8pm, when most fatalities occurred.

Victoria Police inspector for road policing Jason McGregor said pedestrians needed to take responsibility when they were around heavy vehicles.

"We see these days people walking around on their phones or listening to music," he said. "They are just not concentrating on where they are walking."

"If you step out in front of a tram or car the consequences will be dire."

Victoria Police and TAC want pedestrians to put away their phones when walking on the streets, especially in the CBD.
Victoria Police and TAC want pedestrians to put away their phones when walking on the streets, especially in the CBD. Photo: Paul Jeffers

Inspector McGregor said police were out in force and would be handing out $76 on-the-spot fines to jaywalkers.

Bill Hodges, 46, was struck by a tram in 2006 and was lucky to survive his injuries.

Don't walk: Police are cracking down on jaywalkers.
Don't walk: Police are cracking down on jaywalkers.  Photo: Matthew Piper

"I had a broken back, broken neck, broken ribs, my right thumb was amputated and 60 centimetres of my bowel removed - which makes life quite difficult," he said.

"My legs are damaged and I will walk with crutches for the rest of my life. But it could have been much worse."

Police are urging pedestrians to avoid distractions.
Police are urging pedestrians to avoid distractions. Photo: Chris Hopkins

Mr Hodges said he was in a coma for three weeks after the accident and has no memory of what happened but said he may have been distracted at the time.

"I was lucky to even make it to the hospital," he said.  

He urged people to be careful around trams and to put the inconvenience of a $76 jaywalking fine into perspective.  

"If you get into a tangle with one of these vehicles, you will come off second best because they don't leave the tracks," he said.

"It has had a tremendous effect on my life and that of my family and friends."

"You only have to be hit once to have your life irrevocably changed."

By the numbers

Of the 196 pedestrian deaths in Victoria in the five years to the end of 2015:

  • 131 of those who lost their lives were male.
  • The most pedestrian deaths occurred between the hours of 6pm and 8pm (34).
  • Thursday was the day of the week when most fatalities occurred (42).

Inspector McGregor said he did not know what proportion of the deaths were due to distraction.

Are you able to walk around without your phone - are $76 jaywalking fines a step too far? Let us know what you think, here:

With AAP

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