Nigel Gladstone in the Sydney Morning Herald wrote “Eleven Sydney council areas where pedestrians die more than motorists“. I got some choice quotes:
Professor of transport at the University of Sydney David Levinson said changing the way Sydney’s traffic signals give priority to cars over pedestrians in busy areas was one way to stem the flow of injuries.
“This inequality [in traffic light phasing] undermines many of the stated goals of transport, health and environment policy,” Professor Levinson said. “Creating an environment that is better for pedestrians with separated footpaths, easy and frequent safe road crossings, generally slower cars and trucks, better trained and more law-abiding drivers (via police enforcement) will reduce the likelihood of fatalities.”
Road deaths have been increasing in both NSW and the US recently, while most other OECD nations are reporting fewer fatalities.
One theory [Referring to: Chi, Guangqing, Jeremy Porter, Arthur Cosby and David Levinson (2013) The Impact of Gasoline Price Changes on Traffic Safety: a Time Geography Explanation. Journal of Transport Geography 28 1-11. [doi] ] is that as more people can afford to be on the road, drivers with less experience, who tend to be younger, and therefore more dangerous, are added to the mix of motorists.
“When there’s economic expansion, people are working more hours and they probably get a bit more aggressive,” Professor Levinson said.
Research [by Wes Marshall] comparing Australian and American drivers found the rate of fatalities was more than twice as high in the US, where more than half of drivers do not stop or yield to pedestrians at crossings.
In Hawaii’s capital Honolulu, fines for pedestrians who text while crossing the road at traffic lights began this year.
In the City of Sydney, one in three people crossing the road is using a mobile phone and it’s time pedestrians “start owning this problem as well”, Pedestrian Council chief executive Harold Scruby said.
“Pedestrian deaths and serious injuries are going through the roof,” Mr Scruby said. “There is nothing that we’re seeing that the government is doing to help pedestrians.”
Hitting pedestrians with a $200 fine for using a mobile phone while crossing the road, even on the green man phase, is on Mr Scruby’s agenda.
“There’s no barrier there just because the light’s green. Half of the drivers coming towards you are on the phone too,” Mr Scruby said. “If you’re hit as a pedestrian, the driver will be automatically drug and breath tested but that’s a box they [police] have to tick, no one then goes looking for the mobile phone, there’s no box to tick.”
Professor Levinson said fining pedestrians was “basically a form of victim blaming”.
“Distracted pedestrians don’t kill drivers or passengers. Distracted drivers kill pedestrians,” he said. “Deaths are due to high speed and high mass, and drivers of two-tonne machines have an obligation to be more alert.”
In the three years to 2017, one pedestrian was killed and 25 were seriously injured while distracted by a mobile phone. But this is likely to be an under-reported issue, as it relies on witnesses telling police and other forms of evidence.
There are no plans to introduce penalties for people using mobile phones while crossing roads in NSW, a Transport for NSW spokesman said.
I also got to be ABC Radio Illawarra Friday Morning (talking about traffic safety), and ABC Radio Adelaide Friday Afternoon (talking about Beg Buttons) (first few minutes of this).