Smartphones and pedestrians: how we're texting our lives away

The young woman is happily immersed in her smartphone as she crosses a busy suburban street in Sydney. Wearing headphones, she's oblivious to the sound of a car surging forward as the traffic lights switch to green. Sickeningly, she falls under the car, which brakes suddenly. Mercifully, she escapes with minor injuries.

Footage of this accident, caught on a dashcam last year, was all over social media and even made the evening news, highlighting the dangers of pedestrian smartphone distraction. Last October, Hawaii's capital Honolulu introduced spot fines, ranging up to $US99, for pedestrians using their mobile phones while crossing the street. The Distracted Walking Law is one of the first of its type in the world and comes in response to a pedestrian accident rate that has risen by between 5 and 10 per cent in the United States, Britain and Australia since 2010, following years of steady decline.

Watch the video here.

Even chatting on a phone while crossing a road heightens risk, say researchers; texting affects reaction time even more.

Pedestrians account for about one in seven road deaths in NSW, according to the NSW Centre for Road Safety. "Our pedestrian laws are 50 years out of date," says the Pedestrian Council of Australia's Harold Scruby. "The Council wants a minimum penalty of $200 for pedestrians who cross roads while distracted on their mobile phones." is a brand new distracted driving technology that just launched. It locks the device when motion is detected and provides an augmented reality-based 'Unlock Test' that a driver physically cannot complete while driving. No hardware required. Passenger friendly. Drivers blocked from device use.