Road Safety News
 

Bereaved mum launches pedestrian safety campaign

Tuesday 22nd March 2016

A bereaved mother has launched a new campaign to highlight the dangers posed by pedestrians wearing headphones and using smartphones around busy roads.

The campaign, ‘Stop - Pause - Look - Listen’, is designed to raise awareness of the importance of concentration by all road users.

In 2014, there were 446 pedestrian casualties in the UK according to the government figures, making up 25% of all casualties. However, the 2014 National Travel Survey shows that walking comprises just 3% of average distance travelled.

Dona Unsworth is the driving force behind the campaign. In January 2015, she lost her 18-year-old son, Jack, after he was hit by a 7.5 ton truck while crossing a road in Manchester city centre. The coroner concluded that witness and forensic evidence pointed to Jack wearing headphones at the time of the collision.

Driven by a desire to create something positive from the tragedy, Dona now hopes that organisations will help fund and support her campaign to help spread the message.

The campaign already has its own website and film, produced in association with media students from Salford University. Several printing companies have also helped by producing posters, vinyl banners and car bumper stickers for free.

Done Unsworth said: “After losing Jack in a senseless road accident, I needed to focus my energies on creating something positive from the nightmare I found myself in.

“This tragedy and others like it could possibly have been avoided if there had been a national road safety campaign highlighting the dangers of headphones and mobile phone technology. As there hasn’t been anything of note since the Green Cross Code, I decided to create one myself, with the help of my husband Graham.

“People need to realise that this bubble of music and social media they surround themselves with can burst tragically and those seconds of distraction can haunt you and your loved ones for a lifetime. We aren’t out to spoil people’s enjoyment. We want to save lives.

“We are determined this will become a national campaign that will be shown in every school in the UK, and hopefully on TV. However, we don’t have the funds or the logistics to take it to the next level so we are trying to find someone who can.

“We also want to set up a charity in Jack’s name to help parents who are suffering from the sudden loss of a child, and hope that the proceeds from the sale of posters/t-shirts/banners etc could be funnelled into this charity.”

Comments

Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:
Captcha [What is this?]

Informed comment from a variety of sources, but it remains a fact that I am going to look after #1 when I am out and about, whether or not the local authority are a paragon of virtue, and that's probably the thing that gets me home in one piece. As Nick said, it is all about accepting responsibility for one's own safety, and that is the thrust of this campaign.
David, Suffolk

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)
+2

I agree with you Rod in your comment about Highway Authorities and would go further in that everyone who manages, designs and builds Highways and vehicles should bear responsibility for their "product" just as much as the users should bear responsibility as they move around them.

Having quickly read through the document Re the Newham case it shows why, to me, Safety Audits have been developed i.e. to remove features which may contribute towards collisions even if the design meets the required design standards. On what I read I would probably find the same as the court did in that case.

I would have thought that as long as a Highway Authority follows national legislation and guidance on the introduction of speed limits and implements and reviews its speed limits so they are compliant with that guidance/legislation then they should be ok. Together with Safety Audits, Vulnerable User Audits etc they should be managing Highways that accommodate as best as society has decided that the conflicting needs of a diverse population of users. It is then up to the users to move around in a safe manner for themselves and others.

The other issue of course is what the guidance and legislation states and who writes it and then who influences it changes as road user profiles, adjacent developments, vehicles technologies etc change over time. Too much to go into there I'm afraid for a Thursday afternoon before a Bank Holiday!
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)
+6

The link Rod provided on the Rheman v Brady case makes interesting and reassuring reading - there are links on the site to other judgments as well, on collisions and subsequent claims for compensation where rulings have been given on liability in the types of collisions often discussed on this forum (SMIDSY being one) and which perhaps should be more widely publicised for the benefit of all road users and those professionally involved in the subject.
Hugh Jones

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
+2

Nick

Those are some good points and we should be careful of generalisation.

If we come to responsibility then we should also bear in mind the responsibility of the Traffic Authority. The case of Yetkin v Newham at appeal awarded partial liability by the local authority when the claimant negligently walked across a road. See http://tinyurl.com/yetkinvnewham

It can only be a matter of time before a case comes to court whereby a local authority is held liable in a collision for having maintained a 30mph limit in a city centre or residential environment where it clearly is not appropriate.

And yes, there is a difference between actual speeds and speed limits. But the limit becomes an endorsement of what is acceptable and through that also imposes a liability on any persons not complying with such a limit. And as the case of Rheman v Brady a 20mph limit ensured that a driver exceeding that was held liable for the consequences of the actions of a negligent pedestrian see http://tinyurl.com/rehmanvbrady

As was said in the Yetkin v Newham case, "Highway authorities owe a duty to all road users (whether careful or negligent) to use reasonable care in the manner in which they exercise their powers when creating or maintaining roads and highways".
Rod King, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (4) | Disagree (10)
-6

It is difficult for me to avoid generalisations in presenting my viewpoint on this topic so please bear with me.

If a pedestrian steps into a carriageway within the stopping distance of a moving vehicle which is unable to swerve due to oncoming vehicles or other pedestrians on a footway, then the pedestrian will have caused the collision.

If the pedestrian is already crossing at a point in excess of the stopping distance in advance of the vehicle and the vehicle hits them the driver is likely to not have been paying sufficient attention to the task of driving and will have caused the collision.

In both cases the "causing participant" could have avoided instigating the collision with different behaviours or attitudes.

Of course the stopping distances become shorter with lower speed so my logic would tend to lead me to conclude that lower vehicle speeds (different to lower speed limits) will reduce the number of potential collisions. However the pedestrian assuming lower speeds may be lulled into a false sense of increased security and be led into more dangerous behaviours. There is still a need to be continually observant for drivers and pedestrians at all times when moving. Also lower vehicle speeds generally are likely to result in less severe injuries in the result of a collision.

The drivers need to be convinced that by driving at lower speeds lives can be saved and injuries and collisions reduced – what can be a barrier to that is that there appear to be many drivers who think that the onus is on pedestrians to keep themselves safe.

Conversely there are many pedestrians who appear to behave as if it is the drivers who should be responsible for avoiding pedestrians.

I am of the opinion that it is the responsibility of all road users to keep themselves and others safe – even if they do feel they are losing out by having to driver slower than they would like or turning their music down or stopping and looking before crossing!

Forget blame – accept responsibility.
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (20) | Disagree (0)
+20

Let's not overlook the fact David, that whilst electric and hybrid cars are 'silent' (so are bicycles incidentally), the drivers and riders of them are not blind and should be seeing what's ahead of them. Having said that however, too many drivers have tunnel vision and are not taking in what's happening on the footway and are not noticing who's about to step into the road.
Hugh Jones

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)
+3

It is widely acknowledged that while we are taught to Stop, Look, Listen at around 12-13 years of age most of us move to a Listen, Look, Stop strategy when crossing roads.

Couple this with the popularity of listening to music via headphones and there is a heightened risk for those who use them while not realising how they use their senses.

Now add to the mix the increasing numbers of electric and hybrid vehicles with their near silence and we have a lethal cocktail.

Let's hope that this campaign does something to reduce risk for those pedestrians who compromise their safety by using headphones.
David, Suffolk

Agree (13) | Disagree (1)
+12

It is acknowledged that any impairment of the senses can contribute to people being less aware of the risks surrounding them and their ability to respond adequately to those risks. And for pedestrians the diminished hearing that goes with using headphones can be such a factor.

However, let us also accept that there are more than 11 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss. That's 1 in six people you see driving, walking or cycling. Included in that are 900,000 that are profoundly deaf and therefore have no hearing at all.

Couple that with the millions of cars fitted with high-power HiFi systems which will be just as effective at masking sounds as headphones.

And I haven't even added in imperfections in sight, spatial acuity, pedestrian mobility, or distraction by children. I would suggest that at any one time most of the participants on our streets have some sort of permanent or temporary impairment.

So yes, lets all use as many of the senses that we have available to us, but also let's not think that this is just a pedestrian or headphone problem.

The question therefore should be whether we are creating a street environment that unrealistically expects aural perfection in all its participants, or a safe system that takes into account the compromised senses that so many of us have.

And with speed being a factor that determines the rate at which all our senses have to respond then no wonder that reducing vehicle speed is widely recognised as the best and most cost effective way to create systems that can cope with all the human imperfections that exist in the real world.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (9) | Disagree (18)
-9

A very brave lady indeed to create this safety campaign after the tragic loss of her 18 year old son Jack, early in the morning on the way to college listening via headphones to his music. This was such a waste of a young life, but, if more and more youngsters and adults were made aware of what can happen in a split second and change that for other families, Jack's loss of life would not have been in vain. Jack was also an organ donor and saved several others lives through his death.... that was his decision, so he was aware, but not aware enough when out and about with headphones. Plase help spread the word, look at the website..... share, make others aware and if anyone can help get this charity up and running for other bereaved parents, please contact Dona or Graham, visit the website, buy a tshirt or sticker etc to fund this safety awareness. Thinking of the bereaved mother of Jack who has struggled to put her feelings and emotions aside to help others. Thank you.
Marilyn Thomas

Agree (14) | Disagree (0)
+14

Bravo. I won't even cite the statistics that show pedestrian involvement in their own accidents. It's so refreshing to simply have a program that focuses on the pedestrian.
Andrew Mather, Kent

Agree (10) | Disagree (2)
+8