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Zombie 'iPod pedestrians' endangered by mobile oblivion, says AA

The 'zombie trance' people often get into when using their mobile phones and iPods is blamed for an increase in 'pedestrian inattention' collisions

The 'iPod zombie trance' people get into when walking around listening to their mobile devices is being blamed for an increase in collisions, and even deaths, on UK roads.

People are increasingly guilty of focusing more on Google Maps while walking the streets than paying attention to the world around them. They could also be reading text messages and emails or changing songs. Harmless enough? Not when it could be resulting in injury or death, says the AA.

The motoring association says there's a marked increase in what it calls 'iPod zombie pedestrians' and joggers, which could be a factor in the 500 pedestrian deaths and 26,887 casualties the UK saw last year.

The AA was particularly concerned about people whose vehicles had broken down on the hard shoulder of busy roads. Many seem happy to pace backwards and forwards on their mobiles despite being inches from death.

AA Insurance dealt with 177 'pedestrian inattention' claims over the past year, up 5 per cent from the previous year. One of the incidents was a fatality. Using information gathered from its UK database, AA Insurance estimated a whopping 6,000 pedestrian inattention collisions every year -- an average of 17 per day. 

These claims included "man on phone stepped out, wasn't looking", "pedestrian just walked out", "she looked the wrong way", and "he walked into the side of a car". Ouch.

To make matters worse, some of the claims reported drivers swerving into objects like other cars and lamp posts in an attempt to avoid wayward pedestrians. One driver ended up driving into a chemist shop after they narrowly missed hitting a pedestrian.

"Whether on two feet, two wheels or four, too many people are suffering from so-called 'iPod oblivion'," says AA president Edmund King.

"When on the move, our brains have much to take in and using technological gadgets means that our brains can't always concentrate on so many things at once. This is when we walk into traffic, don't hear the truck or drive cocooned from the outside world."