Nearly 350 pedestrians were fined by NSW Police yesterday in a major crackdown on jaywalking and other incidents in city CBDs.
It’s the third major such operation in Sydney this year, with a staggering 28 pedestrians killed in NSW so far in 2014, up 16 on 2013.
Operation Pedro saw police issue 169 cautions and 560 infringements during their cyclist and pedestrian safety blitz in three locations: Sydney, Parramatta and Liverpool.
The crackdown comes in the wake of a number of recent pedestrian deaths in accidents with vehicles and coincides with a 70-year-old bus driver being charged with negligent driving occasioning death after a woman was killed in the Sydney CBD on January 29.
Christine Mulholland, 53, died after she was trapped under a bus for two hours after she attempted to cross the road at traffic lights on the corner of Clarence and Erskine streets on her way home from work.
The accident brought the city to a standstill as emergency services officers worked frantically to free Mulholland, who remained conscious through the ordeal, despite horrific injuries.
Police will allege he did not give way to pedestrians and he will appear in Downing Centre Local Court on July 29.
Thursday’s infringement tally included 346 to pedestrians, 27 for bicycles, 12 “choke intersection” infringements, 24 mobile phone offences, five for seat belts, 65 other infringements and even one charge for aggravated burnout.
Highway Patrol Command, Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, said that after 28 pedestrian deaths, Operation Pedro was aimed at changing habits.
“We sincerely hope that those we have cautioned learn from this experience and change their behaviour,” he said.
Russell White, managing director of Driver Safety Australia, said it wasn’t as simple as blaming people distracted by smartphones for the spike in incidents.
“Very rarely can you pin it down to one single thing, it’s a culmination of factors,” he said. “There’s a general level of complacency about the things happening around us and habit means people look but don’t see – they become entrenched in their own little world and don’t perceive potential hazards.”
Nonetheless, our obsession with social media doesn’t help.
“Research on how mobile phone conversations impact on perception and awareness are well established, but it still applies to daydreaming and not being on the ball too,” he said.
“Anything that competes for your attention is going to add to the risk. And walking along with headphones in, on the phone or checking Facebook, certainly alters way we perceive the environment around us.”
Another issue can be tight roads, especially in Sydney where buses on George Street whiz past just centimetres away from people on the footpath.
“There’s very little separation between vehicles and pedestrians sometimes,” Russell said.
While incident rates can ebb and flow, he said responsibility needs to be shared.
“Road safety is a communal problem for both drivers and pedestrians.”
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