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Environment : Road Safety Last Updated: 2, Apr 2018 - 10:02

Don't be a Tech Zombie
By Noel Gibbons
10, Jan 2013 - 09:03

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You didn't realise it, but an MP3 player can kill you.The road safety Office of Mayo County Council highlighted the dangers of what it calls "iPod oblivion/zombie alert," which it describes as "a trance-like or Zombie state entered by the fashion of some people using MP3 players, phones and electronic organisers on the move," and which it believes is a contributory factor to many of the pedestrian/cyclist deaths in the Ireland each year. There were 28 pedestrians and 8 cyclists killed on Irish roads in 2012. It is not known how many of these cases were caused by people listening to music because the department and the Gardai do not have this information at their disposal.

One Cycling club in West of Ireland (Western lakes CC) has already put a policy in place banning all its members from participating on cycles if they use i-pods while they cycle, Mr Padraic Marrey club coach and one of Irelands top cyclists said ‘cycling demands all your attention so any device that takes your concentration away while you cycle can be a danger".

Last year, a motorists' organisation in the UK called on the Department for Transport to ban cyclists from using iPods and similar devices while riding their bikes, and although it is stopping short of calling for a ban for motorists and pedestrians, it does recommend that the drivers don't wear headphones while at the wheel and slow down in areas where there are cyclists and pedestrians. It adds that the latter should ensure that when using MP3 players, the volume shouldn't be so high that it overrides their other senses.

Noel Gibbons Road Safety Officer said: "We can't stop the move forward of technology but we need to halt the 'iPod pedestrian, cycle and driver zombies'. Whether on two feet, two wheels or four, too many people are suffering from so-called 'iPod oblivion'.

He continued: "When on the move our brains have much to take in and using technological gadgets means that our brains can't always concentrate on so many things at once. This is when we walk into traffic, don't hear the truck or drive cocooned from the outside world."

We have seen "a noticed increase" in pedestrians and joggers who seem "oblivious to traffic around them as they cross busy roads," and with this time of year more people are thinking of keeping fit and out exercising we are just reminding them to think road safety.

According to road safety professionals, the huge surge in use of personal technology can lead to what it calls "unintentional blindness" or "divided attention" among all road users, whether that be joggers, cyclists or drivers listening to MP3 players, people checking work emails on BlackBerry and similar devices on the move, or tourists using a smartphone app to find a nearby restaurant.

Garda Sergeant Donie Duignan, Divisional Traffic Corps, Castlebar said that it was especially concerned "at reports from patrols of people broken down on the hard-shoulder, pacing backwards and forwards whilst using mobile phones," saying "this is incredibly dangerous with traffic passing just a few feet away. Pedestrians and cyclists seem to get lost in a private cocoon when they're on a mobile in the street, or wearing headphones, the use of headphones can pose a safety risk to pedestrians, especially in environments with moving vehicles"


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