People warned of staring at their phones while walking

Councillor says careless smartphone-users creating serious safety risks for others

Smartphone-users walking around sending texts, reading emails and using social media while looking at their devices are creating serious health and safety risks for other people, a Dublin councillor has warned.

The Transportation Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) will hear on Thursday that smartphone-users are at increasing risk of stepping into traffic, being hit by bicycles, or walking into stationary objects due to the "ever-growing practice" of people staring at their phone screens while walking.

In a motion submitted in February, Cllr Frank Kennedy called for an assessment of the ways in which the council could encourage people not to use their smartphones while walking, and to build awareness around the serious consequences this behaviour could cause.

He also called for the introduction of safety measures to prevent injuries and collisions caused by inattentive phone-users.


Kevin Meade, a council official, noted in March that the motion should be referred on to the Road Safety Authority (RSA), with a request that the issues raised be highlighted in a nationwide safety campaign.

“The Environment and Transportation Department has written to the RSA in this regard, and their response will be circulated to the Transportation SPC on receipt,” he said.

RSA spokesman Brian Farrell said the authority had not yet been contacted by the council, but would respond with up-to-date information on careless smartphone-users colliding with objects, people and vehicles.

“We are currently preparing a pre-crash report that will look at the factors leading to cyclist and pedestrian deaths, and expect that report to be published in late September/early October,” said Mr Farrell.

Investigation files

“The access we get for these forensic investigation files is very detailed, and we will look towards these reports for evidence. We’ll be looking for the data to show if there actually is a problem.

“If the report tells us there’s a significant problem we’ll certainly be addressing that issue with a new major campaign.”

Mr Farrell said the last national campaign to address the careless behaviour of pedestrians walking on to the road without paying attention to traffic was nearly a decade ago. The two-part TV campaign featured a short video of young man listening to music through earphones as he crossed the road without paying attention to traffic. The second part of the campaign focused on careless drivers.

A report on Mr Kennedy’s motion will be heard at Thursday’s SPC meeting.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast