Travel Trouble

Look at your mobile phone while crossing the road? You could be slapped with a $200 fine

Look at your mobile phone while crossing the road? You could be slapped with a $200 fine

There have been renewed calls for the government to introduce a $200 fine for pedestrians distracted by their phones while crossing the road.

The Pedestrian Council of Australia is pushing for a national legislation to deter people from using their devices or noise-cancelling headphones while crossing a street.

Under the proposal, pedestrians would be hit with the fine even if they were crossing on a pedestrian green light.

The organisation’s chairman Harold Scruby said the penalty – which was to be called “cross road while distracted” – would help minimise the risk of accidents.

“A lot of people say if they [pedestrians] are going to be stupid, it’s their problem but the fact is the cost of road trauma per annum is about $30 billion and much of that is pedestrian trauma,” said Scruby.

“At the moment there’s no stopping people wearing noise-cancelling headphones and stepping out on a pedestrian crossing or a green light without looking, listening, stopping, thinking … They’re not aware of the imminent danger surrounding them.”

Scruby added, “We’ve spent 8-10 years advertising, now it’s time for enforcement.”

According to the NRMA’s latest Look Up report, over one in three pedestrians in Sydney are behaving like “smombies” or “smartphone zombies” by crossing the road while looking at their phones or wearing earphones.

Pedestrian trauma accounts for 17 per cent of all deaths on NSW roads. Almost half – or 48 per cent – of the pedestrians killed on the road were aged 60 or more.

“Statistics already show that the elderly, very young and those who have been drinking are already at risk when crossing the road, so adding 'smombies' to the list only further enhances the need to crack down on this behaviour,” said NRMA Road Safety Expert Dimitra Vlahomitros.

This is not the first time the pedestrian council has called for a regulatory measure to improve pedestrians’ behaviour. Last year, Scruby told 9News the proposed $200 fine would be an appropriate penalty to encourage vigilance.

“The fine for not wearing a bicycle helmet in NSW is $450,” he said. “When you put it in perspective $200 is pretty cheap.”

In November, Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, said the State Government was not looking at introducing new fines for distracted pedestrians.

Distracted walking laws have been applied in several cities in the US, including Honolulu in Hawaii, Montclair in California, and Rexburg in Idaho.