A boy walks in front of a tram in Brno. via Czech Police

Video: Brno tram and pedestrian accident draws attention to inattention while walking

An accident puts the spotlight on using phones while crossing
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Prague has recently seen two graphic campaigns to try to inform people of the dangers of looking at phones while crossing tram tracks. An accident in Brno, though, helps to bring the point home.

A 13-year-old boy can be seen crossing directly in front of a moving tram and being knocked down. The boy survived the incident, but nationwide fatal accidents involving trains and public transit are an issue that authorities want to stop.

“On Wednesday evening, a tram and pedestrian accident occurred near Hala Rondo (DRFG Arena). A boy was crossing Nové Sady Street just behind the tram stop. But he was more concerned with his phone than with the traffic situation and stepped directly in front of the arriving tram, ” South Moravia Police spokesman Bohumil Malášek said.

“The driver had no chance to avoid a collision. In addition, the wounded young man remained wedged under the vehicle, and was freed by rescuers with only great difficulty from under the tram. The boy was then transported to the hospital with moderate injuries,” Malášek said.

He added that police prevention experts warn that telephoning or watching games on a phone or tablet distracts the pedestrian and is a frequent cause of pedestrian accidents. Likewise, listening to loud music on headphones is very dangerous.

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Both the Czech Association of Insurers (ČAP) and the Public Transit Company (DPP) have launched separate but similar campaigns to point out the dangers. The campaigns both are in cooperation with local police and road safety organization BESIP.

ČAP’s campaign is called #nepozornostzabiji, meaning “Inattention Kills.” The campaign website has statistics from across the country, and maps showing where specific people met with accidents. The campaign has also recently been placing memorials at spots were people were killed.

The say that in 2013–18 some 90 people was killed in accidents involving pedestrians, and 3,696 were injured. In Prague, the most unsafe places are at Ječná / Sokolská, náměstí IP Pavlova / Legerova, Jugoslávská / Bělehradská, and Spálená / Národní.

#nepozornostzabiji memorial at IP Pavlova. via Raymond Johnston

The campaign says that not only drivers are at risk of inattention on the roads. Pedestrians are also the victims of collisions with motor vehicles, and these events often have fatal consequences. Outlines of victims and stylized memorials, accompanied by a hashtag #113, are gradually appearing in seven regional cities on the sidewalks at the main intersections. This symbolizes the number of killed pedestrians in traffic accidents in the Czech Republic last year.

The results of a survey conducted by the STEM / MARK agency, commissioned by ČAP, revealed that half of pedestrians use a mobile phone while on the road. For younger generations, it is even more.

“Last year, with the Inattention Kills campaign, we focused primarily on the issue of phoning at the wheel. However, even inattentive pedestrians who are more concerned with mobile phones rather than monitoring traffic significantly increase the risk of accidents. According to the survey, two-thirds of pedestrians aged 18 to 44 admit to such behavior. For children and adolescents, this figure may be even higher,” says Jan Matoušek, Executive Director of ČAP, said.

“Emotions will continue to play a key role in our communication campaign this year. But we have moved the activities more into the streets and into the online environment,” he added.

The campaign is running in Prague, Brno, Plzeň, Hradec Králové, Liberec, Olomouc and Ostrava. In these seven cities alone, a total of 7,421 pedestrian-related accidents have occurred over the past six years. Locations where stickers and memorials are installed were selected by ČAP in cooperation with the Czech Police on the basis of accident statistics.

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“I see the Inattention Kills campaign effective primarily because it is focused on the emotions and safety of our loved ones, so I believe that even warnings about specific fatalities and the outlines of the victims in the selected locations will make us each think,” Czech Police prevention coordinator Zuzana Pidrmanová said.

dpp safety
Body outline as part of the DPP safety campaign. via Raymond Johnston

The Public Transit Company (DPP) earlier this summer placed body outlines at tram tracks where accidents were most likely to occur. In 2018 there were 104 collisions with people, and eight of those were fatal.

“We are constantly trying to remind everyone before crossing the tracks to look around and see if they are at risk. To our preventive tram, which has been operating in Prague since March, we have added significant spray-painted silhouettes to remind people that they may be in immediate danger when crossing the tracks,” Prague Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Praha sobě) said when the Neskákej mi pod kola campaign was launched. He is also Chairman of the DPP Supervisory Board.

The silhouette spots were chosen according to the frequency of both pedestrians and tram traffic. These are: IP Pavlova, Karlovo náměstí, Palackého náměstí, Národní třída, Staroměstská, Malostranská, Palmovka, Flora, Želivského, Hradčanská, Masarykovo nádraží, Dvorce, and Anděl.

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