Cameras set to watch pedestrians staring at phones while crossing busy junction in London

Study of accident hotspot hopes to uncover how inattentive people allow themselves to walk into traffic

Tom Barnes
Tuesday 04 December 2018 14:41 GMT
Pedestrians looking at mobile phones have caused hundreds of traffic accidents in the City of London since 2013
Pedestrians looking at mobile phones have caused hundreds of traffic accidents in the City of London since 2013 (Getty)

Pedestrians will be filmed as they cross a notorious junction in central London in a bid to reduce the number of accidents caused by people glued to their mobile phones.

Cameras will be installed at Ludgate Circus in order to understand how inattentive walkers allow themselves to step out in front of traffic on a busy road while distracted by smart devices.

The City of London Corporation, the governing body of the Square Mile in the heart of the capital, agreed to conduct the study of the junction, which connects Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill, Farringdon Street and New Bridge Street.

Notes from a meeting of the corporation’s planning and transport committee said the cameras would be used to collect “data about the causes of pedestrian inattention”.

Of the near 300 traffic accidents in the City of London between 2013 and 2017, Ludgate Circus saw more than 40 collisions, the most of any junction. Seven of the incidents left someone either dead or seriously injured.

The most common cause of traffic collisions across the entire Square Mile during that period was pedestrians failing to look properly, which led to 66 accidents – more than double that of the next most common factor.

Experts have increasingly expressed concern over so-called “zombie” pedestrians, who put themselves in danger by failing to pay attention to their surroundings while using mobile phones.

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A 2017 study by Aston University in Birmingham found as many as 17 road accidents a day in the UK are likely to be caused by people walking into traffic while distracted by their smartphones.

Of more than 24,000 drivers surveyed by the AA in 2016, 72 per cent said they regularly saw pedestrians checking devices as they stepped out into the road.

Some cities across the world have already taken action to prevent the problem, including Augsburg and Cologne in Germany, where traffic lights were installed on the floor near crossings to warn people looking down at their phones.

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