28 February 2023

Pedestrians urged to unplug and look up to avoid being another statistic

| Claire Fenwicke
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police officer standing next to his vehicle

ACT Road Policing’s Constable Raiser is one of many officers urging pedestrians to take more care when crossing the street. Photo: ACT Policing.

If you’re walking and decide to cross one of Canberra’s roads, the message is simple: get off your phone and look before you step out.

That’s from ACT Policing which has launched a campaign targeting road users who aren’t car, truck or bus drivers.

Detective Acting Inspector Paul Hutcheson said week one focused on pedestrians, one of our most vulnerable road users.

“Pedestrians, put your phone down, look both ways before you cross the road and listen,” he said.

“Drivers, have a look. If you’re in a high-density area where people might be using the road, slow right down, you don’t have to do the [maximum] speed limit.”

Following our significant road toll for 2022 and two deaths already recorded for 2023, Det Act Insp Hutcheson was disturbed by the number of people walking towards road crossings with their eyes glued to their devices.

“Are you in such a rush that you can’t take a second to improve your own safety?” he asked.

“It’s a two-way street – we want all road users to take care of each other.”

READ ALSO Inquiry urges tougher penalties, fewer second chances to curb dangerous and deadly driving

Noise cancelling and wireless headphones have also been flagged as something you might want to consider removing before crossing the street.

“They take away your ability to hear something you might not see. A car could be behind a pole just at the wrong time as you look,” Det Act Insp Hutcheson said.

“If you’re using all your senses then it’s going to give you a better chance of crossing that road safely.”

Parents have also been asked to educate their children on how to use the roads safely, not just around their school but everywhere.

“Kids will copy our behaviours, and if they see us using the roads poorly then that’s exactly the behaviour they will demonstrate,” Det Act Insp Hutcheson said.

According to Transport Canberra and City Services’ latest road safety report card published in 2021, the Territory recorded four pedestrian deaths on our roads from 2017 to 2020.

READ ALSO Rebecca Krutsky jailed for driving at pedestrians, crashing into garage

This message is one of five targeted safety warnings to “alternative” road users in Canberra, including light rail users and e-scooter riders.

Det Act Insp Hutcheson said our roads and the city’s density were constantly evolving and everyone needed to change how they approached roads.

“Our roads are becoming vastly different to how they were 10, 20, 30 or 50 years ago,” he said.

“The variety of road users is increasing dramatically, and all those different road users need to be able to use the roads in safety.

“All we want is for people, no matter how they choose to make their journey, to be able to get to their destination safely.”

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Tom Worthington2:03 pm 02 Mar 23

We need an App which detects you are at a crossing, and says “Look up now!”. This could cover whatever you were looking at on the screen, so you are not tempted to keep reading it. I could get my computer students working on it. 😉

Jenny Graves3:53 pm 01 Mar 23

The same advice applies to pedestrians on cycle paths. The vast majority these days seem to be wearing noise-cancelling earphones and they can’t hear cyclists or other pedestrians.

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