Walkers, riders and motorists warned refrain from their phones and loud music

Picture: SHUTTERSTOCK
Picture: SHUTTERSTOCK

Victoria Police want walkers and riders immersed in the world between their headphones to be aware of their surroundings.

On Saturday, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer said statistics on lives lost on the road this year showed a “significant increase” in pedestrian fatalities.

There had been 17 so far this year, compared to 11 at the same time in 2017.

Police data did not show whether headphones were contributing factors to the deaths. However, Assistant Commissioner Fryer said headphone distraction was a significant issue for all Victorians, with an increase over time in the number of pedestrians and cyclists wearing headsets.

“We are urging all Victorians to look up and look out for each other,” he said.

“Look where you are going, make sure you can see the vehicles around you and make sure you’re not distracted by your mobile phone when walking.

“We’ve seen in some of the data ... that those who are texting while crossing at lights are four times more likely to disobey traffic control signs, cross when they should not or have a distraction level that puts them at risk,” he said.

Bike Bendigo vice-president Chris Corr said headphone distraction among cyclists was rare, though it was more common among pedestrians.

“Cyclists and walkers are extremely vulnerable ... there’s no protection for them, so clearly they are going to be the ones who come out seriously killed or injured by an interaction with a vehicle,” he said.

“So walkers and cyclists need to be aware, and have all their senses about them.”

Mr Corr said that one of the best ways to protect cyclists would be a network of separate and protected bike lanes. That would keep people safe and increase their ability to ride, he said.

Mr Corr noted it was not only pedestrians and cyclists who could be distracted on the road. Motorists too needed to avoid looking at mobile phones or playing music too loudly.

Victoria Police’s calls came just over a week until the City of Greater Bendigo imposed new 40km/hour speed limits in the CBD to increase safety, which were designed to cater to increased pedestrian and cycle safety in the centre of town.

This story first appeared on The Bendigo Advertiser