By Jeremy Rochow
Published: Tuesday, September 5, 2023
You’re walking across a road, phone in hand, sending a text to a friend. Have you committed a crime? Read on to find out.
Texting, answering your phone, and listening to music through your headphones are all seemingly harmless tasks, but as a pedestrian, they could put your safety at risk.
Not only that, it’s also an offence for pedestrians to walk without due care or attention, or without reasonable consideration for other people using the road. In fact, you could be fined $57, plus a $99 Victims of Crime Levy for unreasonably obstructing the path of a pedestrian or driver.
Don’t think texting and walking is as distracting a typing and driving? You might be surprised by the findings from a recent study at the University of New South Wales.
The research saw 50 participants complete six walking tasks and one seated assignment. The walking tasks were undertaken twice – once while texting and again hands-free.
Motion sensors attached to different parts of their bodies examined how each participant anticipated falling across a range of hazard levels.
The following hazard levels were tested:
- A seated test.
- A normal walk with no threat of slipping.
- A walk with the threat of slipping.
- A walk with a 70cm slip hazard.
The study found that texting caused a clear impairment to a pedestrian’s focus. Some participants slowed down, anticipating the hazards while others sped up. When asked to walk and text ‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog,’ participants made more typing errors to avoid tripping over.
If you’re pounding the pavement, it’s best to stay off your phone and unplug your headphones so you’re completely aware of what’s happening around you. That text can probably wait until you reach your destination.