Fine pedestrians who use phones while crossing roads

Cognitive distraction from mobile phone use can reduce situational awareness and increase unsafe behaviour for pedestrians, PMD users and cyclists, just as it does for drivers.
Cognitive distraction from mobile phone use can reduce situational awareness and increase unsafe behaviour for pedestrians, PMD users and cyclists, just as it does for drivers. PHOTO: ST FILE

It is time to outlaw using mobile phones while crossing roads (Woman crossing road while on phone hit by taxi, April 8).

In February, it was announced that fines for pedestrian and cyclist offences will be raised. For example, the fine for jaywalking was increased to $50 from $20.

However, there was no mention of the penalties for pedestrians using their mobile phones while crossing the road.

One wonders why there is such a heavy penalty for drivers using mobile phones while driving when those who use their phones while cycling, on a personal mobility device (PMD) or walking across the roads are not penalised for doing so.

Cognitive distraction from mobile phone use can reduce situational awareness and increase unsafe behaviour for pedestrians, PMD users and cyclists, just as it does for drivers.

Being distracted, whether one is a pedestrian or behind the wheel, can lead to accidents. While drivers are supposed to look out for any obstructions on the road, it is impossible for them to always be able to stop in time or in a safe manner to prevent an accident.

The authorities must act for the sake of everyone's safety and should consider ways to reduce such reckless behaviour through fines.

We cannot stop the march of technology, but we can and should halt the pedestrian, PMD user and cyclist zombies.

When on the move, our brains have much to take in, and using gadgets while doing so means that we can't concentrate on other things simultaneously.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2019, with the headline 'Fine pedestrians who use phones while crossing roads'. Print Edition | Subscribe