Should Australia follow the US with this new road rule?

Pedestrian behaviour has changed, thanks to increased use of mobile phones.

We have all seen it. People walking along, busy on their mobile phones and not paying attention to where they are going. Statistics from last year say one in three pedestrians is using their phone while crossing the road. That’s a lot of potentially close calls! 

It’s certainly a dangerous practice, especially when it comes to negotiating traffic on the road.

Distracted walking accidents have become so common in the US that the National Safety Council, in 2015, added the category to its statistical report. In China, authorities have created sidewalks specifically designed for people using mobile phones as they walk. In London, officials have padded lamp posts.

It’s not just a risk of accident either. It can be fatal. 

While mobile use while driving has been banned in Australia, (although you still see if far too often), walking and using the mobile technically hasn’t. Technically? There is a law in some states that says you must not walk without due care or attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road. It’s not often enforced, but that might change, thanks to changes planned overseas.

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Honolulu, as of this October, will bring in new laws for distracted walking, and that includes a fine. While it may be small at $15 (less than $20 AUD), it will go up if you are serial offender. But at what stage are you distracted? Certainly looking at the small screen in your hand and not where you are going is a fair call at being distracted, but talking on the phone but still looking where you are going might seem fine to some. 

If the law shows evidence of a change in pedestrian behaviour, and in saving lives, it’s a fair chance other countries will take the concept on board. 

What do you think? Another unnecessary law or something Australia needs to look at?