back to article 'Podestrian' risk rising for drivers, warns insurer

Portable media players are putting a growing number of pedestrians in danger, UK insurance firm Swinton has warned. Podestrian "Watch where you're f***ing going!" It defined a “podestrian” is anyone who listens to an MP3 player or phone while they're out and about, and are so immersed in the musical experience or their …


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  1. Sam

    wait for it

    Webster will be along as soon as he finishes fitting iron spikes to the front of his vehicle.

  2. Chris Collins


    I may be showing my age, but was this not an issue in the 80s with the then ubiquitous Sony Walkman? How's this a new phenomenon?

  3. Tony Green

    Mobile 'phones

    In my experience as a cyclist, the bigger problem's people who are too stupid to cope with walking and talking on their mobiles. I've had loads of these walk out in front of me.

    Great fun watching them leap in the air when I fire off my super-loud air horn though and it never fails to cause amusement to everybody else in the area at the time.

  4. Matthew


    If car drivers pose such a risk to cyclists as they claim, why do 3/4's of the cyclists then block their only sense that could tell them of something happening behind them.

    Idiots! Who says natural selection is dead.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Hello welcome to the 1980's

    Then they were called "personal streos". never caught on...

  6. Chris
    Thumb Up

    Probably deserved it.

    I have an iPod, and I have noise canceling headphones. Guess what? I still look before I walk in to the fucking street. These idiots deserve to be hit. A little chlorine in the gene pool would go a long way.

    "I'm Chris Taylor, and I endorse this message."

  7. andy gibson

    What about the drivers?

    I've seen an alarming increase in car drivers listening to MP3 players while in the car. I didn't think that was allowed?

  8. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    The important question is... many points for 'scoring' one?

  9. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    And what about...

    ... the number of pedestrians, cyclists and other road users who are *STILL* being put at risk by idiots using hand-held mobile phones whilst in "control" of a tonne and half of metal despite it being illegal?

    (PS "breaking"? "Swindon"?? Methinks some proof-reading is required!)

  10. Dazed and Confused


    I think a lot more people are using MP3 players than used to use Walkmans.

    Mobes and texting are also a big issue now.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Nature ALWAYS finds way to whittle down the numbers. Natural selection at work.

    To help Mother along maybe some new legislation is required whereby Podestrians are treated with the same disregard as a Hedgehog on the road.

    I'll tell you, the world would be a happier place and the entire Human Race would be so much stronger for it.

  12. William Clark

    @Tony Green

    I agree and some pedestrians will not look if they cannot hear anything coming, like a silent bicycle.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Excuse me!

    How long have there been portable music players? Over twenty years? I think we can blame the rise of accidents on numpty members of the public living in a litigation happy society, comfortable in the knowledge that their personal responsibility is all but removed and they can claim a shedload of money if a demon driver hits them.

    I'd call it natural selection...

  14. Ferry Boat

    I'm living in the eighties

    I remember when I was in New York ages ago, about the time we were all listening to Sony Walkman cassette players, hearing of a law requiring joggers, cyclists and rollerbladers to have one ear unplugged. This was supposed to prevent similar accidents although none of these are really classed as pedestrians I suppose.

    It's most unfair of you to put 'Most Wanted MP3 players' next to this story. You are promoting death. Anyway, I might have to buy one. They can play cassettes can't they?

  15. Steve
    Thumb Up


    Yep I also use an Airzound airhorn it's great fun freaking out the podestrians, as for cyclists with headphones it's more like 1 in 20. Let's not forget the drivers with phones.

  16. Richard Kilpatrick

    "Easy target"

    Like hell they are. In 16 years of driving I've yet to hit an iPod user.

  17. Alex Pinder

    Keeping Score

    I thought you got an extra five points if you mow down someone down with an iPod in, and an extra 20 if you get home and find a zimmer frame in your front grill

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not only pedestrians or cyclists... drivers do it too!

    The other day I see someone DRIVING with headphones on. EH? WHAT? And the luxury sedans these days are so insulated that they don't hear what's going on outside either.

  19. Bassey


    This is (one of) the reasons why I hate in-ear headphones. I do a lot of long-distance road walking, a fair bit of it on roads without pavements, so I always wear open-ear headphones that allow me to hear everything going on around me. It's less friendly at work though, when people assume I can't hear them and start shouting at me!

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Cyclists

    Were the hell did that all come from?

    One reason why a cyclist should wear personal-stereos is to avoid contracting PTS from all the noise being generated by those four wheeled cocoons spewing-out lethal emissions. And speaking of natural selection, either cyclist are out performing chameleons in stealth bio-tech or that keen detection of movement that kept us ahead predators is entirely missing from the driving population.

  21. Richard Johnson


    The article says, "According to Swinton, podestrians currently account for about nine per cent of minor accidents involving sudden braking or shunts".

    Surely shunts are caused, wholly and completely, by car drivers not leaving an appropriate stopping distance between themselves and the vehicle in front.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Well for the drivers amoung you.

    You could always start a game of iDeathrace.

    10 points for a mobile phone user.

    20 points for a MP3 user

    30 points for an iPod user

    and 50 points for those muppets who thought it was trendy to go and get a iPhone.

    All we need now is a website and a ranking system, first to a thousand gets a Sherbet Dip.

    *\. Getting a map out the pocket so I can find the pedestrianised part of town.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isnt it about time

    ...we had a jaywalking rule. Fair enough to have a charge of dangerous driving for car drivers, I'd *like* to see more stopping of dangerous cyclists but we really need to be "educating" pedestrians as well. I blame the withdrawl of "charlie says" adverts myself...

  24. Ash

    I wonder...

    ... how the multiple millions of DEAF people worldwide cope with crossing the road?

    Sometimes, natural selection needs just a little help removing the stupid.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: cyclists

    Actually, going at 20mph on a bike, you'd be hard pushed to hear anything behind you due to the wind noise.

    I ride listening to music at low/medium volume, which keeps me motivated & doesn't significantly interfere with my awareness (I've tried with & without). However I am always checking to see what's coming up behind, which I rarely see anyone else doing.

  26. Steven Raith

    @Chris Collins

    Chris, I think the problem is, as the article states, the prevelance not of personal steroes [PMPs my arse!] but the increased availability of noise cancelling headphones from the likes of Shure, etc.

    I have a pair of, er, SE110s I think - and they do a great job of blocking most background noise, with only serious bass and treble really getting through ; the difference is that I compensate for that by keeping my wits about me all the time when strutting my funky stuff.

    A bit like paying more attention to shaded areas of pavement when you are wearing sunglasses - it's common fucking sense.

    I actually think that *non* noise cancelling headphones are more dangerous personally, as you have to turn them up much further to hear your music, which is distracting in the first place; I rarely have my personal stereo [oh, OK, iriver] up beyond 10% volume, even on the tube, to hear it properly. Better for your eardrums, and better for your concentration IMO/E...

    Steven R

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Walkmans? Cyclist?

    In the '80s there were fewer cars, and no fscking SUV rolling down the road like T72 tanks. And with the level of noises you have nowadays you can walk around with earplugs and is exactly the same thing.

  28. Red Bren


    Where did this anti-cyclist rant come from? The article is about podestrians - a "witty" pun on ipod and pedestrian. I hope you don't veer off the road as randomly as you veer off topic. But while we're here...

    Where did you get the "3/4 of cyclists" statistic from? What makes you think that hearing is the only sense that cyclists rely on to tell when something is happening behind them? Most cyclists I know use optical sensors on a flexible mount. Apparently drivers have them too, but many don't know how to use them. And when a driver does go SMIDSY, there's often very little the cyclist could do to avoid the hazard even if they were aware of it.

  29. EvilGav

    @walkmans and @welcome to the 1980's and @cyclists

    The difference being that modern mp3's play louder and use inner-ear or noise-cancelling head-phones, as opposed to the foam-sit-on-ear type that were common in the 80's.

    As for cyclists (and indeed motor-cyclists) who wear head-phones - idiots, the lot of 'em. I cycle in a city every day and every day some twat tries to kill me (I might take it personally soon), i've never understood the idea that blocking out hearing is a good idea.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    I wonder what

    percentage of the claims were by drivers

    A) Not paying any attention as there seems to be any number of idiots these days


    B) On their mobile at the time and needed an excuse to claim

    I'd guess about 80%

  31. M
    Thumb Up


    I cycle lots of places but I would never ever consider listening to music when I was on my bike. It is tremendously dangerous!

  32. Gary
    Thumb Down


    'their only sense that could tell them of something happening behind them'....

    So, that's our cycling hats covering the eyes in the backs of our heads, then?

    Or are you suggesting that fully 75% of cyclists wear music players? I'd be intrigued to know where you got such foaming-at-the-mouth blame-stats from, but I suspect that Jeremy Clarkson will soon be calling to ask for his opinion back.

  33. Chris Matchett

    Deaf people are a terrible risk to drivers

    ...and don't even get Clarkson started on blind people!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It wasn't so much of a problem for the Walkman etc. because of the type of headsets. Even the best of them didn't cut out ambient noise very well, so you had to really crank up the volume to become oblivious to the world around you.

    Enter the ear bud and noise cancelling headsets and now they live in their own little cocoon. Now, why that makes them forget that they have EYES and can TURN THEIR HEADS to see what is coming I don't know.

    As was said, natural selection...

    What, no Darwin icon?

  35. Test Man

    Definition of "podestrian"

    Silly of them to define it as MP3-player-wearing pedestrians, because this implies that people with portable CD players and MiniDisc players for example aren't a threat. It would be better to use a proper term for any kind of portable stereo unit like "personal stereo" or "portable music player" because the threat is from ANYONE who wears headphones connected to any kind of portable unit.

  36. Dale

    Peds & cyclists

    It happens even with people who don't have things attached to their ears. Many pedestrians have a habit of stepping out into the road and THEN looking to see how accurate was their presumption that the street was empty. In most built up areas cyclists such as myself are effectively silent, but it happens so regularly that hopefully sensible cyclists will be anticipating it and riding accordingly.

    However, off my bike I know I've done it myself a few times, so I'm not in a big hurry to point fingers. When on my bicycle I just ride slowly when there are people around, pay attention to what is going on around me, and try not to do silly things. I don't always get it right, which is why I'm hoping everyone else is doing likewise.

  37. Hector K Spankthrust III


    Tony Green - perhaps the reason why loads of pedestrians walk in front of you is because, like the majority of cyclists, you are on the pavement? Just a thought....

  38. JonDoe


    That's exactly why I don't use my mp3 player when I'm cycling. I don't understand why so many of my fellow cyclists do. Or the looks of blank incomprehension when I ask them why not being able to hear the traffic behind them doesn't worry them...

  39. Louis

    Calm down dear!

    It's a commercial!

  40. goggyturk


    Of course, the noise a driver makes furiously revving his engine in second gear while overtaking the cyclist tends to blot out any noise from MP3 players. Even moderate engine noise is easily heard.

    If you'd ever cycled in traffic you'd know that. Idiot.

    And, btw, this article is about pedestrians, who are the dumbest road users of all, after idiot motorists. Idiot.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Back when I used to cycle regularly I found that earphones actually improved my ability to hear cars by stopping the wind from whistling in my ears. Obviously I didn't crank them up to 11 while on busy roads.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As a non-podestrian I have had plenty of incidents of Cyclists attempting to mow me down on crossings when I have clear right of way and can hear everything perfectly. I even occasionally get mowed down on the pavements.

    As for anyone who steps out into the path of traffic based on the sense of hearing then more fool them, unless of course you are blind but then if you are a blind Podestrian then good luck in making it to tomorrow.

    Use your fucking eyes people.

  43. sabroni Silver badge

    Shunting the car in front

    Shunting the car in front are only ever caused by bad driving. If you don't have room to stop if the person in front suddenly slams on the brakes, you're driving too close for the speed your doing!

  44. Loki

    Natural selection

    No really, this is natural selection at work. Especially here in Russia where we only obey the rules of the road when the road police are around.

    Kid walks out in the road with headphones on.... 50 points if you hit them.

    Kid texting while listening to music.... 100 points.

    Ever seen Deathrace 2000?

  45. Edward Rose


    Where do your numbers come from? 3/4 of cyclists listen to music on the go?

    Anywho, how the hell is a car behind a cyclist a threat if they actually did as they were meant to and gave the same room as if a car was there. ie, foxtrot oscar to the other lane, there's plenty of road - use it (or be patient if needs be)*!

    I by no means imply hear that all motorists should be shot ~50% where I live are actually very considerate. 20% seem to be unaware that they should give a bit more room, 20% should be shot because they just don't care (affects other motorists as much as cyclists). 10% should be hung up to starve to death because the worthless scum seem to think cyclists are fair targets.

    Same numbers probably apply to cyclists and others too.

    Anywho, back on to the topic of the story. Ipods are quite clearly evil - we have proof. Wha, ha, ha. Lets ban morning lectures too, the amount of times I nearly went under the wheels of a car due to being 'so tired I was in autopilot' is scary. A big thanks to those who stopped - even if it was just to save on dents.

    *A pre-emptive "actually the majority of cyclists do pay road fund tax". So no, that isn't a valid accuse for running them down.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >> According to Swinton, podestrians currently account for about nine per cent of minor accidents

    >> involving sudden braking or shunts.

    I thought that 'accidents involving sudden braking or shunts' were caused by traveling too close to the car in front (which is probably a more recent trend than the personal stereo).

  47. Elmer Phud

    Nearly got one

    Out on my bike the other day and someone stepped straight off the kerb in to my path - oblivious to anything due to the tell-tale white wired sprouting from their ears. Even a well placed 'Oi!' didn't work. Fortunately I leave enough room from the kerb to allow for such events so could negotiate the hazard without veering off in to the path of traffic behind or crashing in to then oblivious listener. It was close - it's possible that they may have required a change of underwear but at least it was me and not a skip lorry doing 50mph.

    Oh, Matthew, I doubt if it's as much as 3/4 of cyclists but I agree that it's bloody stupid to block off something that car drivers don't have -- a sophisticated early-warning system.

    Don't fret though, our old mate Darwin has worked out that they are a dying breed.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Matthew

    They are talking about pedestrians. Or do you just have such a hatred for cyclists?

    And, you will find that any cyclist moving at speed can hardly hear anything from behind them anyway, the sound generated from your own tyres/wind speed can sound like there is a car behind you constantly.

    3/4 is just a poor exaggeration.

    PS. I'm more of a driver than a cyclist so don't make me out to be biased.

  49. Colin Morris

    Is this really a 'problem' only now?

    I am one of the many who has been walking down the road whilst listening to my personal stereo [as in cassette player initially of course] since the late eighties. Not much has changed really....

    Ok, Noise cancelling 'in-ear' style headphones are a fairly new phenomenon more due to the increased bass response as much as anything else but I find when walking down the road wearing these type of headphones that I am much more aware of whats going on visually. In fact I will look around before crossing the road much more than usual if I am listening to music with noise cancelling style earphones on.

    Normal mobile phone use (whilst walking along as well as when driving) is MUCH MORE dangerous in that since you are listening more intently and speaking whilst walking along you are far more likely to be a danger to road users.

  50. David


    I drive for a living and I would agree with a previous poster that pedestrians imparting their world-shattering and obviously terribly important views into a phone seem to be more of a danger than people using personal stereos. Many`s the time I have nearly mown down a completely oblivious perambulating phone user who has stepped out into the road. Young mums with baby buggies are the worst offenders, pushing their vulnerable offspring out into the road first, as if testing the waters. The "joke" is that they seem to get quite upset when they are hooted at, as if it`s all MY fault that they have a death wish!

  51. John Bayly

    @andy gibson

    I'm going to admit that when I'm out in my Westfield I listen to my MP3 player, simply because there's no radio, and even if there was one I wouldn't hear it.

    That said, I've always been able to hear sirens even when I'm plugged in, but that's probably because I can't get the volume loud enough to hear over the engine/road/wind noise (got to love those twin webbers)

  52. Big_Boomer

    Texting Twats

    The other day some moron walked right into me whilst texting.

    I wouldn't mind but he was ugly and not at all my type. ;-)

    I was having a fag at the time and was leaning against a lamppost which he would have smacked into if it hadn't been protected by Crumplezone Boomer.

    Worse still, "Textard" didn't apologise and walked off still engrossed in his phone.

    Since then I have stopped giving way to Texters, Phoners and other meandering idiots (like Tourists). I just aim at them and let them get out of the way of Behemoth Boomer! <Evil Laughter>

    The sooner these morons learn that they are not capableof walking/driving/cycling whilst using a phone, the better off we all will be. So my advice is to walk into them or "accidentally" knock the phone out of their hands or shout something at them.

    Sooner or later even the most stupid of these idiots will learn.

  53. Robert Brown
    Jobs Horns

    Stupid people

    Bloody idiots listing to iPods while crossing the road - I had to drop my mobile to swerve round one the other day.

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Don't like the way I drive?

    Stay off the sidewalk!

    Seriously, pedestrians are targets. Bicyclists are simply better targets 'cuz they move about faster.

    OK, settled. Back to Deathrace.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    I see it every day

    Yes, the odd podestrian gets into a bit of a near miss, but it's nothing compared with the other road users I see. On my way to work (from Tube to office in central London), I see possibly

    * 1 or 2 pedestrians do something dumb (of 500ish). Usually podestrians.

    * 20-30 cars do something dumb (of 200ish). Virtually all of this lot are on the 'phone

    * 4-10 cyclists do something idiotic (of 20ish).

    * No motorcyclists do anything stupid.

    In this corner of London, we need to ban or block mobile phones for all drivers, then do something about idiot cyclists before worrying about the odd random podestrian (to be frank, with the actual numbers, it's not worth the effort - fix the driving and the cyclists, and the podestrian problem becomes little more than the matter of Darwin awards)

    Seriously, cycling is great. I cycle at home. But please, stop being such a bunch of tw@s and get off the damn pavements, and stop running red lights. Accident rates would plummet if you cycled properly.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    gave up cycling years ago

    Near death experiences every other day just aren't funny, plus I didn't want people thinking I was a member of an arrogant, whingeing and anti social cult.

    Try fell running (if you've got a fell handy) it's reet good.

  57. J-Wick

    More importantly...

    ... why does the bird driving appear to have stuck her handbag in front of the instruments on the dashboard?, Looks like she can't see her speedometer or anything!

  58. Blubster


    "If car drivers pose such a risk to cyclists as they claim, why do 3/4's of the cyclists then block their only sense that could tell them of something happening behind them." ............... And it wouldn't hurt if some of these twats turned round to have a look what's behind them once in a while.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not rocket science

    I was always taught to look where you're going, regardless of whether you're a pedestrian, cyclist or driver. It really doesn't require a great deal of effort or sense to pay attention to what you are doing and the environment around you.

    That goes for everyone.

    Cases in point. At Victoria Station I got almost flattened by someone running with their head down so they were looking at the floor. No headphones but still ignored a shouted warning as I tried to get out of the way. Maybe there should be an advert saying "Think once, think twice, think idiot runner."

    In a city centre I saw someone plugged in walk straight into the path of an oncoming double decker bus. The bus was only going at 5 mph so was able to stop before any enhancements were done to the gene pool. The plugged in specimen then launched a foul mouthed tirade at the bus driver.

    Same city centre, a busy train station. People crossing a clear and marked crossing. Besuited braindead with mobile phone stuck to ear shot out from the parking area and nearly flattened several people. Then stormed out of his car with a view to abusing these innocent people only to find one of them was a member of British Transport Police.

    There are lazy people who can't be bothered to engage brains in all areas of society and on all modes of transport.

    The moral here should be ENGAGE YOUR BLOODY BRAIN, wherever you are and however you travel.

  60. Peyton


    I find it unnerving to be out and about with my noise cancellers on - even in areas without a lot of traffic. Evolution gave us ears for a reason, and it had more to do with listening for dangers than iTunes...

    People who lack this urge to be aware of their surroundings are obviously mutants that need to be selected against - I say run 'em down.

  61. Mike Moyle

    Stupid people to the left of them...

    Trust me; there's plenty of stupid to go around.

    Stupid pedestrians...?


    Jaywalkers should be shot on sight, as it cranks up the drivers and puts the rest of us at risk. I'm actually pretty compulsive about using crosswalks and waiting for the light (my daughter calls me a "Crosswalk Nazi"). I obey the traffic laws that affect me and I damned well demand others do the same.

    ...and not looking both ways (twice!) when crossing the street is just beyond moronic even when you ARE in the right, because the one traffic law that trumps all others is "F = MA".

    Stupid cyclists...?


    I don't know about where YOU live, but where I live, cyclists are supposed to follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles: ride WITH traffic, signal turns, yield to pedestrians, and stay OFF the fucking sidewalk.

    Do they, my hairy ass!

    Stupid drivers...?


    Again, speaking only for where I live, pedestrian in a crosswalk or, lacking a painted crosswalk, in a "presumed crosswalk" (at a corner where a sidewalk is cut by the cross-street, then continues on the other side, drivers have to assume that people are going to want to continue walking down the sidewalk, hence have to treat it as if there were an actual physical crosswalk there), or when pedestrians approach within 10 feet of the traffic lane drivers are supposed to yield right of way to the pedestrian. Also, the little light that says "walk", or shows the little guy limping across the street means that drivers DO NOT FUCKING MOVE!!

    Do they? See response above.

    People who wait at the red light, then make their turn on the walk light are either scum or morons and should have their gas-pedal foot broken for each offense. (Unless they drive a standard... then the gas-pedal foot can be left alone and the foot they use for the clutch should be used... MUCH more entertaining!)

    The only time that I have been hit by a car, I was wearing small fold-up style over-the-ear phones (CD player). OTOH, I was crossing IN the crosswalk, WITH the light, and the driver, who had stopped for the light, decided to make an (otherwise legal) turn on red... without checking to make sure that there was no pedestrian crossing legally in front of him.

    There's a great plenty of Stupid to go around... and it's a renewable resource!

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I thought the responsibility lay with the car driver to anticipate hazards such as pedestrians stepping out in front of them. It's called driving sensibly, if you are in a residential area, you should be alert for kids running out pretty much all the time.

    It's surprising but people don't randomly cross the road much, they tend to cross at specific points, like junctions and crossings.

    As for cyclists, some of them are a law unto themselves, i have nearly been hit several times at a crossing where the light was red but they thought it didn't apply to them.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ped/Podestrians should be shot!

    The title says it all! If you can't drive there its not worth going!

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plenty of stupidity in traffic all around..

    (side note: disagree with higher scores for iPod users - they're no challenge)

    OK, here goes:

    pedestrians - not paying attention when texting and listening to MP3s or phones. Primary source of blood on lampposts and the occasional bumper, screen wipers tend to just about cope with them if you hit them hard enough (otherwise the parts stay too big). Great source of entertainment when they have an argument on the phone first - getting run over afterwards must be a class way to feel better.. Zimmerframe equipped one are great as road cones. Irritating when you hit one but generally no big deal. And about as challenging.

    cyclists - regarding traffic lights as decoration, and changing lane without even bothering to look or signal. Rather irritating as bike and body parts can get jammed in the suspension. Driving back and forth on one tends to loosen this, though, and bikes come conveniently with a water bottle to rinse.

    motorcyclists - come in two classes. Pizza bike class: too easy. Tend to take risks in overtaking and then merging in just in front of you, counting on you hitting the brakes hard to avoid them and thus getting hit in the tail by the next motorist. So don't. For resulting bits stuck in front suspension, see cyclists, extra points if you manage to eat the pizza while still hot. Motorbike class: much harder, and involves more risk. Apart from them being much faster, they're generally also more dangerous when dismounted. Cheating is allowed, though, opening a door when they zip through queues is guaranteed to catch them before they rip your wing mirror off. But you may lose the door, which may get embarrassing when they survive the short flight. Easier to catch by quick lane changes because they tend to do this at speeds that don't allow enough stopping distance. Most stupid trick: driving away from police and thinking they can get away with it - until they end up decorating a lamppost (usually at the level of blood marks, see pedestrian).

    car drivers - talking and even texting during driving. Talking: even just using the bloody cable headset would help, texting - well, thank God for trees. Other intelligent activities are hanging in the fast lane because there's something to overtake a mile ahead (which will be done at approx 0.1 mph more than the vehicle to overtake), and wearing a iPod noise cancelling headset because they're to cheap to buy a decent stereo. The opposite of the "fast lane hang" is the lane zipper in dense traffic - somehow these lack the brain to see that the extreme risk they cause will NOT result in more than about a minute gain in an hour, and risk others in the process. Not a good one to have in front as that'll be the cause of the traffic jam you're about to hit. Darwinian selection is fastest with the type which quickly squeezes in between two lorries at traffic lights and then swiftly discovers (a) what "braking distance" for lorries is and thus what the gap was for (b) what "squeeze" really means and (c) that a cage construction and airbags is really no match for 50 tonnes in front and rear. Oh, and there is the drink and drive category. The most fascinating cases end up burning first, which is an interesting way to go as there must be a risk for spontaneous combustion whilst your skin has hardened to an unmovable leather. No, that's not a joke - there is no chance you can move after 90% burns. Drinking and driving do NOT mix.

    So there.

    Anyone care to continue for bus, lorry and train? Just out of curiosity?

  65. Barry

    Back in the day....

    I remember when the pavement was for pedestrians (try walking along them now, with the amount of cars parked with 2 wheels up on it), the road was for driving long (now the cars barely move), a telephone was considered 'mobile' if it wasn't bolted to the wall and the cord was a couple of feet long, and a personal stereo was *personal*.

    But, I am starting to get on a bit now.

    I blame the safety brigade. Cars need to be made more dangerous, not safer.

    Start with: no seat belts, and a 6in spike in the middle of the steering wheel.

    Then, spikes over the bumpers.

    That would make people pay more attention.

  66. Peter Allen

    3/4 my a**e

    Too many made up statistics...

    As a cyclist, I have a good idea of how many people wear ipods on the bike. More than should, yes - but 75%? I might believe 7.5%. Yes, there are cyclists who are idiots, who wear ipods, ride on the pavement, jump lights, follow left turn lanes then go right... many things. But these are, really, a minority. It's just that the driver doesn't notice the cyclist who behaves like a normal car and does the correct things, he remembers the idiots. Simply - what happened to on-the-spot fines for this sort of thing?

    Also as a cyclist - most car drivers are nice, play sensible, even hold back too long in order to leave a 3m gap passing (note: if I don't think I can keep my bike within 50cm of the pavement, I shouldn't be riding it - just move to the other side of the lane and you'll have room to pass and leave me a 1m gap). Some assume a bike has no rights, but again this group is a minority (probably driving a taxi or white van). Doesn't stop the typical cyclist 'all drivers are idiots' complaint. Again, cyclists notice the idiots not the majority who are sensible.

    As to pedestrians - why do so many think that they can step out in front of cyclists? Again it's only the few idiots - but, really. If I'm cycling at 30mph down your street and you step out in front of me, you'll get a lot more hurt than if you do that to a car at 30mph. In the first case you'll get hit in the hips by my handlebars and you'll maybe never walk again, in the second you'll get broken legs as you bounce over the bonnet which will heal in a few months. The fact that I'll get hurt too (while the driver won't) is probably not much compensation, and I do not have insurance, so you will definitely not get any money.

  67. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Maybe not music players?

    "How long have there been portable music players? Over twenty years? I think we can blame the rise of accidents on numpty members of the public living in a litigation happy society, comfortable in the knowledge that their personal responsibility is all but removed and they can claim a shedload of money if a demon driver hits them.

    I'd call it natural selection..."

    I think you've hit it on the head! Where I live (Iowa City, IA, USA) I've seen a HUGE increase recently of people just not looking.

    1) Where my parents live, there's several kids who just run out onto the street. There's one kid in particular who will just run right out in the street, on a regular basis, without looking.. even right in front of cars. The kid is young, so this isn't too surprising by itself... But he'll do it *while the dad's standing right there!* The dad... One time my mom was like "you know, you shouldn't have your kid running out in front of cars" and he was like "Oh, it's alright". She's like "Really, no it's not" and he just kind of dazedly stared off into space, no response whatsoever. He will not tell his kid that he should look before going out in the street! The same kid also will leave trikes and crap like *in* other people's driveways... 100s of feet of sidewalk, and he consistently will leave stuff in the few feet where someone has to stop their car on the street, get out, and move this stuff.. I've seen the dad walk right past it and he won't move it either. I haven't had him run in front of me yet, but I intend to give him a blast on the horn if he does, maybe he'll get scared out of running in front of cars before one runs him down.

    2) I'm also seeing more bicyclists here.. well, OK. The serious bicyclists are not any "worse" than they've ever been (I see one do something stupid once in a while, but so do the cars.) Others are just riding bikes around in their residential neighborhood for fun.. they seem to ALSO think nothing of just riding on the sidewalk, and at random intervals hop the curb into the street -- again, without looking and so sometimes right in front of cars. They'll also ride so they're swerving around over like 2/3rds of the street (which is OK in general, they're just clowning around on a low-traffic residential street), but they won't have the sense to ride straight for a few seconds when cars are going by. These kids look to be early teenaged, old enough to know better.. they don't even have the sense to look surprised or alarmed when they hop a curb, look over and see a car stopped like 3 feet from running them down! They *do* nearly wipe out from shock if I toot my horn at them when I have to get on the brakes though. It's bad enough now, if I see anyone biking in these neighborhoods, I top out at about 10MPH (as opposed to the 25MPH speed limit..) I think, again, noone must have told them that it's stupid to run (well, bike) out in front of cars, so they just go ahead and do it. Also, although the US doesn't really have them, I think they might be chavs.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Wait, Wait...

    What about 'Podtards'?

  69. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Yes, it's natural selection in action but...

    Think of the bigger picture here, people. Yes, the idiot ends up in the morgue, but other people are affected too. I don't want to kill someone with my car. Whilst it may be good for the gene pool, that person on the slab marks the end of my no claims discount.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Turn head = wobble/slight veering into the direction you turn.

    Not exactly what you want a cyclist to do when you are about to overtake them.

    Not exactly what a cyclist wants to do when you are about to be overtaken.

    That and it hurts your neck. Easiest for a cyclist to do, is assume there is always a car about to pass them and not do anything silly like cut corners without looking etc.

    As for cyclists going around puddles and potholes, we shouldn't have to look behind us, you should give us enough room, as if we were cycling in the middle of the lane, it makes basic sense for everyone. Or just look ahead to anticipate it, but then again, a little cave in the road is no match for your behemoth 4x4 :p

  71. Daniel B.

    @Walkmans, inner-ear headphones

    "It wasn't so much of a problem for the Walkman etc. because of the type of headsets."

    My Walkman (circa 1998) had the traditional headphones, but I could get the inner-ear headphones for $9 bucks even then. The earbud-type headphones have been out there since at least 1994, still inside the Walkman era.

    Oh, and by the way, my Walkman *still works*. I wonder how many iPods actually live that long...

  72. Chris Fleming
    Dead Vulture

    Let me through!

    That explains why Ipod sales are so high. it's all plot really.

    Got problems now, wait until electric vehicles are rife it is going to look like a bowling alley out there.

  73. archie lukas

    Didn't this happen with Walkmans?

    Theres nothing new under the sun

    meanwhile, Boy (and girl racers) could always try driving defensively - or carefully as we experienced old farts call it.

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