Road Zombies

Lost in Their Own World

Most people see zombies as mindless creatures staggering steadily forward towards their goal – undeterred and unharmed by all that is being used to try to stop them.

Now we seem to be developing a new breed of road user with similar characteristics – Road zombies are isolated from all that happens around them and are finding their way into road casualty reports and becoming a new hazard on the road.

Sound bubble

With earplugs firmly in, people lose vital cues to what is going on around them.

The Walkman or iPod generation may be so used to being in their music 'zone', be it at home on the bus or train or even at work, that it seems nothing unusual.

But people need their hearing to drive, ride or walk safely. Although it is hard to show that deaf people are at any more risk on the road this is almost certainly down to them taking extra care as a result of their condition. Most 'zombies' don't do this. They just plough on.

It isn't just the lack of hearing. People go into their own private cocoon and their thoughts wander. They do things they wouldn't outside the cocoon. While we worry about people insulated from reality by the comforts of a modern car we don't worry as much about the far more vulnerable road users plugged in and isolated from the real world.


Actually the problem isn't just with earphones and isn't just with teenagers. The government has already run advertising aimed at the mobile-phone-using teenage pedestrian through its THINK! Campaign and it looks as though the time has come to do something similar to a wider age range of people who are distracting themselves when on the road.

Other forms of Zombie

Other common 'zombies' are those pacing backwards and forwards while using a mobile phone. In the office this is just a nuisance, but on the motorway hard shoulder this kind of sensory oblivion is just downright dangerous. There are juggernauts passing within only a few metres..

Technology is not the only cause. Cold and wet weather pushes many people into the hoods of their coats. These limit vision and require that you turn your body, not your neck to look around. It's easy not to bother and to find new ways to join the ranks of 'zombies'.

Drivers, motorcyclists and even pedal cyclists need to learn to spot the 'zombie' before it is too late – chances are they won't hear, and probably won't see you.

Join the discussion in the AA zone


7 January 2010