Pursuant to Australia's six States and two Territories legislation that impose traffic fines for Jaywalking, 'Articles and Publications' in Section (A) below provide a welter of evidence that a financial penalty/fine is necessary to awaken too many of Australian pedestrians that the recent influx of Pedestrian Smartphone Distraction, (colloquially known as Smombering) is killing and seriously injuring a lot of Australian pedestrians at a material cost to our Public Purses that are already under funded

This Writer -

*       proposes a monetary fine for all pedestrians, except school children, who are so pre-occupied looking at their mobile phone whilst crossing at a pedestrian crossing that they do not attempt to make eye contact with any approaching motorist/s; and

*       suggests a $150 fine for a first infringement and a $200 fine for each subsequent similar violation.

A national website would list the names of school children that had similarly infringed (listing the name of school child, name of school, date, particular pedestrian crossing,  State or Territory).  Such a website would enthuse schools across the country to the merits of their students not transgressing

Future revenue from State and Territory fines for Smombering be directed to long term care costs for Australians suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or a spinal cord injury (SCI) where the incidence/frequency have both recently increased




  1. BITRE 's Power BI website evidences that pedestrian fatalities across Australia increased from 125 (12 months to Jan 2022) to 162 (12 months to Jan 2023) - a 29.6% increase in pedestrian fatalities in a mere 12 months.

  2. Road Safety Transport NSW website chronicles that Pedestrian fatalities in NSW increased from 36 to 54 in the 12 months to 13 March 2023  - a 50% increase in pedestrian fatalities in a mere 12 months

  3. Transport Action Commission (Victoria) evidences that Pedestrian fatalities in Victoria increased from 29 to 44 in the 12 months to 31 Dec 2022 - a 52% increase in pedestrian fatalities in the last 12 months

Section (A)

Articles and Publications (from Australia, USA, UK and Canada) concerning the dangers of pedestrians Smombering (zombies gawking on their smartphone) while crossing streets.  Particularly relevant to unsignalised street crossings (ie pedestrian crossings) in large Australian cities

1.    'Smombies' on our streets: NRMA Pedestrian Report - June 2019

      "The report 'Look Up - keeping pedestrians safe' includes an observational study of 26,390 pedestrians across three intersections in the Sydney CBD and one in Parramatta.

  • 36 per cent crossed the road while distracted by their smartphone or wearing earphones

  • Almost eight per cent (7.5%) crossed the road illegally

  • Over three per cent (3.4%) crossed illegally while using their smartphone or wearing earphones.

Pedestrian trauma accounts for 17 per cent of all deaths on NSW roads and nine per cent of serious injuries. More than 1,900 pedestrians are killed or hospitalised from road traffic crashes each year and in 2018, 67 pedestrians lost their lives."

2.    Below are extracts from the aforementioned NRMA Pedestrian Report 'Look Up - keeping pedestrians safe':

    Research also conducted in Sydney found that 33% of 546 pedestrians crossing the road were on the phone, 27% were talking and 6% were texting.8

Distracted Walking Law

Due to the proliferation of smartphone use across the world, many jurisdictions are grappling with the role distraction plays in pedestrian safety. Some have even gone further by introducing a distracted walking law

Distracted walking is a form of inattentional blindness when you focus hard on one thing such as texting you might not notice unexpected things entering your visual field such as an oncoming car. Distractions can impair pedestrians’ awareness of their surroundings, resulting in slower crossing times and unsafe pedestrian behaviours.5

Honolulu, Hawaii: In October 2017, became the first city to fine pedestrians for using an electronic device when crossing the road.11

Montclair, California: Introduced a ban in January 2018 on using a mobile phone while crossing the road.12

Research shows that 89 percent of surveyed Australians own a smartphone.6 With such a high penetration rate of smartphones, it is no surprise to see inattentional blindness occurring on footpaths.

 3.     New report shows extent of pedestrian distraction and smartphone use on Melbourne streets - Monash University -

"An observational study by Monash University Accident Research Centre has found that around 20 per cent of pedestrians in Melbourne are distracted by smartphones.

A total of 4,129 pedestrians were observed across eight locations between September 2017 and June 2019, with the findings publicly released in a new report through MUARC’s Baseline Research Program.

Researchers observed 814 pedestrians (20%) using a portable device while walking, with headphone use and texting/interacting with a device (38% and 37% respectively) the most prominent behaviours.

Thirty-one per cent of those distracted pedestrians were involved in a safety-critical incident.  The most common of these events was failing to conduct a head check before crossing the road. Forty-two per cent of smartphone users committed this error, compared to 26% of non-smartphone users.

The report recommended numerous countermeasures in the categories of infrastructure, technology, regulation, and behaviour (i.e. education campaigns).

Regulatory countermeasures would prohibit pedestrians from using smartphone in high-traffic volumes areas, ........"

4.     Below is an extract from PEDESTRIAN DISTRACTION FROM SMARTPHONES written by the Accident Research Centre at Monash University in July 2022 that informs that fines are levied in three cities in the USA for texting whilst walking using a crosswalk (pedestrian crossing):

     "Internationally, however, there is legislation in place for texting while walking using a crosswalk. In the United States of America several states have legislation in place, for example; the city of Rexburg, Idaho impose a USD$101.50 fine for the first offence and USD$201.50 for second offence, thereafter a USD$51.50 court cost will also be added to the previous amount (Retting & Schwartz, 2016; Rexburg Police Department, n.d).
In Hawaii, Honolulu the fine is USD$35 for the first offence, USD$75 for the second offence and USD$99 for a third offence if cited in the same year.
In Salt Lake City, Utah distracted pedestrians are subject to a USD$50 fine with repeated offences incurring a USD$100 fee (Northwest staff, 2017)."

5.     National Road Safety Participation Program 'Distracted Pedestrians By Digital Devices' 2013 - reports:

        "Cell phone-using pedestrians:

  •  Walk slower;

  •  Are less likely to notice other objects in their environment, even if those objects are highly salient/prominent;

  •  Select smaller crossing gaps in traffic;

  •  Are less likely to look at traffic before starting to cross;

  •  Are less likely to wait for traffic to stop;

  •  Are less likely to look at traffic while crossing;

  •  Are more likely to walk out in front of an approaching car;

  •  Are more likely to be inattentionally blind; and

  •  Pay less attention to traffic (children);"

Conclusion (in 2013 - ten years ago)
The number of pedestrian deaths and injuries is on the rise and will likely accelerate as more pedestrians use increasingly sophisticated, and attention absorbing, hand-held mobile devices. There is already discussion in some government assemblies as to whether use of such devices in crosswalks should be made illegal. Stay tuned. It looks like the Distracted Pedestrians by Digital Devices scenario is about to repeat itself.

6.     Victorian jaywalkers fined $44,000 in three days - 9News -

"Officers cited a number of pedestrians in the Flinders Street and Spencer Street area who crossed the road without looking while talking or texting on mobile phones or listening to personal music players."

7.     Victorian pedestrians jaywalking while using mobile phones to be targeted by police  -  ABCNews - Wed 20 Jan 2016

       "Pedestrians caught walking against the signal — or jaywalking — face fines of $76."

8.      Look out before you step out - NSW Transport

·         Before you cross the road: Look out before you step out

·         When crossing the road: Where's your head at?

9.      Pedestrian Deaths Surge In Australia – Are Smartphones Or Drivers To Blame?  - 25 March 2019

        "However, while pedestrian deaths rise, the total road deaths are actually decreasing - down 6.4% between 2017 and 2018..."

10.    Corporate Driver Training Australia's Distracted Walking – How Australian Pedestrians Are Increasing the Risk of Road Accidents:

"According to the NSW Centre for Road Safety, Pedestrians account for approximately one in seven road deaths in NSW.

The Pedestrian Council of Australia has urged the Australian government to crack down on distracted pedestrians by issuing a $200 fine for listening to music or texting when crossing the road. Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia Mr Harold Scruby believes that enforcing punishment is the only way to reduce the incidence of pedestrian based accidents, “I think if most people got a $200 fine they would think twice about doing it again,” Mr Scruby said."

11.    Calls for new fine that would see pedestrians penalised $200 - Nine News  -  28 Nov 2018

12.    Fatal distraction: Pedestrians urged to ignore the phone and focus on the road ahead - The Age  -  Jan 2016

"Transport Accident Commission chief executive ,Joe Calafiore, said 196 pedestrians had been killed on Victoria's roads over the past five years, with distraction emerging as a major factor."

13.    U.S. Pedestrian Fatalities: Are Smartphones Responsible? - March 2021

           Increasing Pedestrian Deaths

"Around 6,590 pedestrians died in car accidents in 2019, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. This number was 5% higher than the previous year.  However, the number was even more alarming when compared to figures from over a decade earlier.  While the number of pedestrian fatalities had decreased by more than 2,000 from 1989 to 2009, this trend quickly reversed over the last decade."

14.    Smartphone texting linked to compromised pedestrian safety - BMJ is a global British healthcare knowledge provider -  3 Feb 2020

"Smartphone texting is linked to compromised pedestrian safety, with higher rates of ‘near misses’ and failure to look left and right before crossing a road than either listening to music or talking on the phone, indicates a pooled analysis of the available evidence, published online in the journal Injury Prevention.

Worldwide, around 270,000 pedestrians die every year, accounting for around a fifth of all road traffic deaths. 

‘Pedestrian distraction’ has become a recognised safety issue as more and more people use their smartphones or hand held devices while walking on the pavement and crossing roads.

Text messaging emerged as the potentially most harmful behaviour. It was associated with significantly lower rates of looking left and right before and/or while crossing the road, and with moderately increased rates of collisions and close calls with other pedestrians or vehicles.

Nevertheless, they point out: “Given the ubiquity of smartphones, social media, apps, digital video and streaming music, which has infiltrated most aspects of daily life, distracted walking and street cross will be a road safety issue for the foreseeable future.” 

15.    Smartphone use blamed for pedestrian road deaths -  BBC News - 31 March 2017

"A sharp rise in US pedestrian deaths has been partly blamed on people using their smartphones while driving or crossing the road.

The US Governors Highway Safety Association estimates that there were 6,000 pedestrian deaths in 2016, the highest number in more than 20 years.

In the last six years, fatalities have grown at four times the rate of overall traffic deaths."

16.     Look Up! - First News United Kingdom- 10 February 2022 

"But, in 2019, 6,200 pedestrians were killed or had life-changing injuries on UK roads. More than one in five of those people (1,415) were aged 17 or under – that’s around a whole class of schoolchildren EVERY week. Accident data shows those aged 11 to 14 are the most likely to be killed or badly hurt – around 50 EVERY month.

The number of 11 to 14-year- old pedestrians being killed or seriously injured went up every year between 2015 and 2019, from 548 to 606. That’s more than one child every week.

A study by the University of Lincoln in 2019 looked at mobile phone use by schoolchildren while crossing the road.  They watched pupils outside a secondary school in the north of England over a four-week period. They wanted to see if the pupils looked (or didn’t look) left and right before crossing the road, whether they crossed when the pedestrian light was on red or green and whether they crossed on the crossing.

The researchers found that nearly a third (31.37%) of road crossings were made by pupils with a phone or other device, and that they looked left and right less frequently when they had them. They concluded that the safety of school-age pedestrians is affected by mobile phones and music players.

A teenager died after walking in front of a bus while distracted by her mobile phone. Sian Ellis, 15, suffered fatal injuries when she was hit by a double-decker bus outside her school in Leicestershire on 28 January 2019. The accident happened shortly after 3:30pm, just metres from the gates of King Edward VII College. Giving evidence at the inquest (official investigation) into her death, PC Stuart Bird, a collision investigator with Leicestershire Police, said CCTV footage taken shortly before the tragedy showed a female matching Sian’s description “walking through the school grounds wearing a scarf around her head and looking down at her mobile phone”. His colleague, Detective Constable John Borlase, said witnesses had told him Sian was looking down at her mobile and was also using headphones."


"After the initial observations, Safe Kids Grand Forks put up lawn signs around the school and spray-painted safety messaging on sidewalks in front of every crosswalk: Heads Up, Phones Down. A simple message, but nearly 60 kids under the age of 19 are hit by cars every day in the United States. Safe Kids Worldwide data showed that 1 in 4 high school students and 1 in 6 middle school students are distracted while walking."

18.     NSW Transport - Pedestrian Safety - 'Look out, before you Step out':

                    "Each year, around 50 pedestrians are killed and over 1000 are hospitalised on NSW roads."

19.     Pedestrian deaths in the U.S. reached their highest level in 40 years - PBS - 2 Feb 2023

"Pedestrian deaths in the U.S. have reached their highest level in 40 years. Using funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law, Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, is spearheading the allocation of $5 billion to state and local governments through a federal grant known as Safe Streets and Roads for All to try and prevent roadway deaths."

20.    Pedestrian distraction: Mobile phone use and its associations with other risky crossing behaviours and conflict situations - ScienceDirect world’s premier platform of peer-reviewed literature-  Sept 2022

"Results show that around 14.4% of pedestrians were distracted while crossing. Interestingly, while distracted pedestrians were more likely not to observe traffic while crossing, they were less likely to violate traffic signals or cross outside the marked crosswalks."

21.    Not-so-smartphones: Texting and scrolling on touchscreens has sent pedestrian injuries soaring by 800% and almost HALF of us are distracted while crossing the road, scientists warns  DAILY MAIL UK  -  5 Feb 2020

"Texting and scrolling on touchscreens has sent pedestrian injuries soaring by 800 per cent.

The findings show people who text or browse the internet while walking were significantly less likely to look left and right before crossing the road. They also took longer to cross a road."

22.    Texting While Walking Banned in New Jersey Town - ABC News -  May 13, 2012

           "Avid texters beware: Fort Lee, N.J. police said they will begin issuing $85 jaywalking tickets to pedestrians who are caught texting while walking."

23.    Stony Brook study warns of texting while walking - Long Island Business News  - January 19, 2012

"The researchers found “gait velocity is reduced when using a cell phone while talking or texting,” that “navigational errors occur when texting while walking” and “texting while walking produces greater interference than talking on a cell phone.”

Cell phone use among pedestrians leads to increased cognitive distraction, reduced situation awareness and increases in unsafe behavior,” according to the abstract of the study in Gait and Posture online. “Performing a dual-task, such as talking or texting with a cell phone while walking, may interfere with working memory and result in walking errors.”

24.    Cellphones and Crosswalks: A Hazardous Mix – New York Times  -  Aug. 2, 2018

          Below is a Comment by a reader of this article, Ariel Resto  Branchburg, NJ - Aug. 23, 2018

       "What interested me the most in The Times this week was an article called “Cellphones and Crosswalks A Hazardous Mix”, because I’ve seen the outcome of this problem in person. This article discusses different reasons why walking while using a cellphone isn’t safe. My personal experience with this happened one day last summer while I was waiting for someone at a train station. A guy looking down at his cell phone, wearing headphones and dancing while walking was approaching the train crossing intersection. Even though the signals were blinking and the alert bells were ringing, I watched as the man walked right in front of an oncoming train. Apparently, his music was so loud that he couldn’t pay enough attention to his surroundings to see or hear the train coming."

25.    Effects of mobile phone use on pedestrian crossing behavior and safety at unsignalized intersections - Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering  -  24 Oct 2018

"Using mobile phones can be a source of distraction for pedestrians when crossing streets, it is especially dangerous at unsignalized intersections. To investigate the effects of mobile phone use on pedestrian crossing behavior and safety at unsignalized intersections, we carried out a field survey at three selected locations in Wuhan, China.

Then, the pedestrians’ crossing behavior characteristics were statistically analyzed, and a logistic regression model was established to quantitatively analyze pedestrian safety.

The results showed that 15.6% of pedestrians used mobile phones when crossing unsignalized intersections and 64.1% of them were young pedestrians.

Pedestrians using mobile phones while crossing unsignalized intersections were at higher risk of accident, crossed more slowly, and were less likely to look at traffic status than those not using a mobile phone."


Section (B)


Three cities in the USA and one in Japan that have banned mobile phones and earbuds at crosswalks (pedestrian crossings)


HONOLULU  -  Bill 43 extends electronic device ban to pedestrians and bicyclists  By Lisa Kubota - May. 12, 2011

         "City councilmember, Ann Kobayashi, introduced the measure to curb distracted pedestrians and bicyclists."

Honolulu bans texting and walking with 'distracted pedestrian law' The INDEPENDENT - 25 October 2017 

         "Police in Hawaii's capital will now be able fine pedestrians up to USD$99 (£75) for viewing an electronic device while crossing the road."

Bill 6 to ban electronic devices (throughout Hawaii) for crossing pedestrians represents latest push to make roads safer

Bill 6 which is awaiting the mayor’s approval, would make it illegal to look at a phone, tablet, gaming device, or anything electronic while crossing the street".

Montclair California bans use of phones, earbuds in crosswalks - The Mercury News - Feb 2018 

"Up until Tuesday, violators received a warning, but enforcement began on Wednesday. Moving forward, you could be fined $100 if you get caught."

US city (Rexburg Idaho) starts to fine people caught texting while walking  - The Guardian -  July 2011  

"In Rexburg, Idaho, fines are already a reality.  Since May, anyone found walking across a street while texting is subject to a $50 fine. Students in the college town seemed supportive of the law, when quizzed by journalists. One remarked: "I think it's a good rule so we don't get hit by cars."

Below is an extract from a webpage titled Move-In on the Rexburg Idaho"

"General Safety

Japanese City Yamato Has Banned ‘Smartphone Walking’  - The SWADDLE - Aug 20, 2020

"But in Yamato there are no penalties for breaking the rules; instead authorities are hoping for more of an organic change in behaviour."


Section (C)

Jaywalking penalties

Difficult to comprehend that in NSW pedestrians that are caught jaywalking can be ordered to pay a fine which could be as high as $2,200 if the matter is unsuccessfully contested in a court of law.   Yet no fine exists when people cross a street at a pedestrian crossing or a traffic lights whilst gawking at their mobile phone and not attempting to make eye contact with motorists travelling in one or both directions.  Too often barging onto a pedestrian crossing assuming that approaching motorists have seen them.

Pedestrians who cross a street outside of a designated crosswalk or against a traffic signal (examples of jaywalking) are not in an area where drivers expect to see them. This results in pedestrians getting run over by vehicles unknowingly. Jaywalking also puts a burden on drivers, who may have to suddenly brake or swerve to avoid hitting a pedestrian. This can lead to accidents and injuries for both the pedestrian and the driver.

Regulation 230 of the NSW Road Rules 2014 prescribes that pedestrians must take the shortest route possible and must not stay on the road for any longer than is necessary to safely cross. Breaching this rule carries a fine of up to $2,200 if the matter is determined in court. Breach of Regulations 231, 232, 233 and 234 for jaywalking can result in a fine of up to $2,200 if the matter is unsuccessfully contested in court.


Section (D)

Information/reports on the high cost of spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury

Improving care standards and costs for spinal trauma patients  - Sydney University

"Around 300 people sustain a new traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) in Australia each year. Despite this relatively low incidence, the costs associated with TSCI are extremely high; the lifetime cost for paraplegia is estimated at $5 million and for quadriplegia tetraplegia, $9.5 million."

The economic cost of spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury in Australia - ACCESS ECONOMICS - JUNE 2009

"The lifetime cost of new cases of brain and spinal cord injury occurring in 2008 alone was $10.5 billion in Australia"

Spinal Cord Injury in Australia -  Spinal Cure Australia and Insurance and Care NSW (iCare)

"Approximately 20,800 Australians are living with a spinal cord injury (SCI). These injuries are mostly the result of traumatic causes and are incurred by people under the age of 65.

The impact of an SCI on a person is devastating -one third of Australians with an SCI have a severe injury, resulting in no movement in the affected parts of their body. This limits mobility, affecting independence, and impairs bodily functions such as breathing, digestion and sexual function. As a result, people living with an SCI require substantial support and assistance in daily activities, are less likely to return to work and suffer from poorer health and wellbeing.

These factors all contribute to high lifetime costs to the government, individuals and their families, and losses in broader economic productivity. The total lifetime cost of spinal cord injuries in 2020 is estimated at $75.4bn. This is approximately $3.7bn per year."

Costs of spinal cord injury in Australia - Nature  - 1988

Brain and spinal cord injury in Australia – economic cost  -  2010  - BMJ Journal - UK

"Total costs of Traumatic Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury were estimated to be $8.6 billion and $2.0 billion in the base calendar year (2008), respectively, and accounted for 30,458 and 5,090 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) respectively. The financial cost per case per year of severe TBI was higher than all comparator conditions, except muscular dystrophy. Costs for quadriplegia were higher than all comparator conditions.  The financial costs and Burden of Disease associated with Traumatic Brain Injury are substantial."