Smartphone

‘zombies' reveal

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People using phones

ALMOST a third of Brits have confessed to being glued to their phone when crossing the road, rising to 80 per cent of 18-to-24-year-olds, a study has revealed.

The survey by Fiat of 2,000 UK drivers and smartphone users found drivers had to take evasive action such as honking their horn (24 per cent), braking heavily (23 per cent) and even swerving around pedestrians (16 per cent) who had walked blindly across the road while on their phones.

This highlights the very real-world benefits of autonomous driver safety features found on the new electric Fiat 500.

Worryingly, almost one in 10 motorists stated they previously had to call 999 as they had hit a pedestrian that was on their phone while they were crossing the road, rising to one in four people in London.

Fiat's research found distracted phone user incidents were all higher in the capital than the rest of the nation.

More than a third of Londoners had to beep at a pedestrian (36 per cent) and brake heavily (37 per cent) to avoid hitting someone on their phone.

In addition, 28 per cent had to swerve a distracted pedestrian and alarmingly 24 per cent of drivers had hit a pedestrian on their phone, although these pedestrians avoided any serious injury.

‘Smartphone zombies' walking out in front of a driver while on their phone had also led to some angry words (17 per cent) and rude gestures (14 per cent) being exchanged between the two parties. 18- to 24-year-olds were more likely to get involved in these types of altercations (36 per cent rude gestures and 33 per cent swore at someone).

The survey also detailed the UK's latest phone usage habits. It found on average people spent two and a half hours on their phone - four hours amongst 18- to 24-year-olds - with just under a quarter (22 per cent) picking up their phone between 41 and 60 times a day.

With pedestrians distracted by their phones seemingly being another hazard for drivers to look out for, a third of respondents (33 per cent) said they would be in favour of driving a car with autonomous technology.

That statistic rose to 48 per cent of London drivers feeling more comfortable if their car had technology that would brake if a pedestrian was to suddenly walk out in front of them while they were driving.

The level two autonomy on cars such as the new Fiat 500 includes an emergency braking feature that alerts the driver of a potential hazard with an acoustic and visual warning. Should the driver not respond, the system activates the New 500's brakes autonomously, helping to avoid or mitigate potential impact with motorists, cyclists or pedestrians on their mobile phones.

Greg Taylor, managing director of Fiat UK said: "It's worrying to see such a high number of pedestrians being overly distracted by their phones and putting themselves at risk."

Fiat's survey also revealed what people are up to when distracted by their phones when out and about.

Texting (35 per cent), on WhatsApp (33 per cent), using the Internet (32 per cent), making a phone call (28 per cent), on Facebook (24 per cent), taking pictures (22 per cent), watching streaming services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer (13 per cent) and taking selfies (12 per cent) were some of the most common.

Tripping over (17 per cent), nearly walking into a lamppost (17 per cent) or shop window (15 per cent), bumping into another person (16 per cent) and tripping on an escalator (12 per cent) were highlighted as mishaps pedestrians encountered due to phone distraction.

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