When iPods Are A Traffic Risk

For regular pedestrians, an iPod can be a useful tedium-buster. However, Victorian police have tied an increasing number of road deaths to walkers being distracted by MP3 players and text messaging.

Brendan Roberts at the Herald-Sun reports that 59 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in Victoria in 2008. While a variety of factors were involved, police are fingering increased use of portable devices as a major factor. While there are laws controlling using mobile devices in cars, pedestrians are generally left to their own devices.

As a committed walker, I regularly use an iPod, but in heavy-traffic areas I tend to favour podcasts rather than music, since the latter are more likely to drown out environmental noise. If you've got your own tactics for using an iPod safely while walking, share it in the comments.

Walkers told to turn off iPods [Herald Sun]


Comments

    On the street, I only have one earbud in. I think it's stupid to walk down the street completely deaf to what's going on around you.

    Yeah, I do the same thing as Elly. I find wearing both earphones in is dangerous when walking down the road and can be very unsocial.

    Considering my iPod Nano's battery is FUBAR'd (first gen, I think the battery FUBAR'd within the warranty, but wasn't assed, also, the second gen came out 2 weeks after I bought mine, talk about bad timing) this isn't as much as a risk to me anymore.

    Sometimes when i'm in a conversation with a friend, I might forget to look at the road (yet I stop just before being "in range" of a car.)

    The one-earbud option is always an option, but for me, I tend to keep both earbuds in (although I prefer using headphones) and remove them when crossing any road.

    I don't quite see why that's such a big problem, the article says

    "Similarly, if you're crossing the road and staring at your mobile phone sending text messages or updating your Facebook status, it means you're not going to see a vehicle approaching until it's too late."

    It's quite a simple process, you look up from your phone when you get to a road, see there is no cars coming, and cross the road.

    Or you could just walk at the lights, when and where you are supposed to, eliminating the issue.

    I don’t quite see why that’s such a big problem, the article says
    “Similarly, if you’re crossing the road and staring at your mobile phone sending text messages or updating your Facebook status, it means you’re not going to see a vehicle approaching until it’s too late.”
    It’s quite a simple process, you look up from your phone when you get to a road, see there is no cars coming, and cross the road.

    I see pedestrians and cyclists doing dumb things on the road in front of me everyday. In one case a pedestrian simply walked out in front of peak hour traffic in King St Newtown at night. He was wearing black and I swear the only thing I saw was the white of an iPod earpiece. Similarly, cyclists bearing no lights and wearing no reflective gear are adding to the mayhem they cause by wearing in-ear headphones.

    Wasn't the world's first noted such fatality an Australian girl on a bike in London?

    It's more the stupidity of the pedestrian rather than their ipods. Technically pedestrians have right of way in a lot of situations where they cross a road legally. It amazes me the number of people who j-walk and sadly they often have children with them, and incomprehensibly within site of a pedestrian crossing or lights. They cause chaos even when they are alert and aware of their surroundings (no matter how much THEY look at traffic, as a driver YOU don't see them til they pop out from between parked cars).

    Having said that, given the quality of driving I see daily (or lack of it), I wouldn't be anywhere near traffic without making sure I had all my senses, including my spidey one.

    It's called natural selection.

    I would have the thought the risks and the remedy are the same as they were 30 or even 40 years ago with a tranny and earphones or a set of headphones with an antenna attached for FM radio. Sold millions of 'em at Tandy in the 70s. ie: take responsibility for your own actions.

    Similar issue when cycling. If both ears are getting music then it tunes-out the background sounds. Fine if I'm cruising through the countryside, but in the city you need to hear what's going on with traffic-noises to maintain a good situational awareness.

    As someone who enjoys walking and cycling and also drives a car occasionally, I get a mix of perspectives...you can't blame any one group; _everyone_ needs to take responsibility.
    Play it safe: keep your eyes and ears open.

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