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Manchester introduces dedicated 'slow lane' for mobile phone users 

Two adjacent 75-metre long (247ft) ‘mobile phone safe lanes’ have been installed in central Manchester, after new research by AO-Mobile that found that a staggering 96% of the population say that they have experienced someone walking and not paying attention because they were too busy looking at their phone, in the last 12-months.

Thought to be the first of its kind in Europe, the trial, which is located in the Spinningfields district of the city centre, features a designated pathway for pedestrians to help stop people who walk with their eyes glued to their mobile phones from bumping into each other.

The pavements along Hardman Boulevard – a busy pedestrian thoroughfare surrounded by offices, shops, bars and restaurants, used by tens of thousands of people every week – now has arrows and signs that mark out separate walking lanes on the pavement exclusively for slow-walking smartphone users.

A whopping 75% of Brits say they are guilty of walking and using their phone at the same time, according to the new research. 

The rise in so-called “DALAPs” (Distracted As Looking At Phone) and “distracted walking” (a behaviour recognised by The World Health Organisation) is when people walk whilst looking down at their phone in their hand rather than looking where they are going or concentrating on their surroundings – typically because they are instead texting, on social media, reading emails or video calling. 

When asked if mobile phone usage is a cause for concern when it comes to public safety, 19% of people feel the government and local councils should step-in or provide guidelines, with a further 21% admitting initiatives such as sign warning people in busy areas to look where they are going, would be useful. However, 7% of people felt this would be silly or an overreaction.

70% say they regularly walk and text, completely oblivious to what is going on around them. 1 in 5 (19%) say they are guilty of walking and video calling, 44% say they walk and use social media and 42% say they regularly walk and respond to emails on their phones, without paying attention to anything else. 

As a result, 38% of Brits say that someone has actually physically bumped into them, albeit apologising afterwards. 

However, a 27% said someone has bumped into them and not even bothered to apologise for doing so.

A further 25% admit they've experienced a 'near miss' where they had to move out of the way at the last second to avoid a collision due to ‘distracted pedestrians’.

The most common locations for this taking place are when people are doing their shopping (55%) or when walking to or from work in the morning or evening (35%)

Richard Baxendale, MD of AO-Mobile, said: "We have to be realistic and responsible when it comes to the way society is changing. Our research found Brits being distracted by technology when walking is becoming an issue people want tackled. Our trial slow lane is an important first step that may well be adopted by other cities in the future.”

"AO-Mobile is all about making mobile phones simpler and we wanted to highlight that people should pay attention to our new deals and customer service, rather than keeping their head down and missing out."

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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