Distraction as a cause of accident: “You can hardly hear the tram”

Distraction as a cause of accident: “You can hardly hear the tram”
Within 3 days there were two accidents with a tram in Linz.

On Wednesday, a 13-year-old, who was probably crossing the tracks in stress, was hit by the Bim. On Thursday, a 15-year-old was caught on his bike by a tram that he had overlooked. Both boys escaped with minor injuries.

“More than 9 million kilometers are traveled by our public transport every year and fortunately such accidents are isolated cases. But of course every accident is one too many,” says Susanne Gillhofer, press spokeswoman for Linzer Linien.

  • Also read: Young person hit by tram in Linz-Urfahr

One percent of accidents caused by Bim

This is also confirmed by Christian Käufler, safety expert at the Upper Austrian Transport Board (KFV): “Accidents involving trams only account for one percent of accidents with injuries throughout Austria.” Every year there are 35,000 injured in road traffic in Austria. With 365 injuries, the proportion of tram accidents is relatively low. “Taking the tram is one of the safest ways to get around.”

  • More on the topic: During a practice tram ride: Boy hit by Bim in Leonding

According to KFV, there were 25 tram accidents with personal injuries in Linz in 2022. In these collisions, 24 people were injured and 2 accidents were fatal. Collisions with cars occur most frequently (44 percent), followed by accidents with pedestrians (40 percent) and cyclists (10 percent). Isolated cases include collisions with motorcycles or trucks.

The people most often injured are not pedestrians or drivers. In most cases (56 percent), people in the Bim are injured by emergency braking. Car drivers were the second most likely to be injured in tram accidents (20 percent), followed by pedestrians (18 percent) and cyclists (10 percent).

Distraction is the most common cause of accidents

Unlike a car, the tram has no way of swerving and emergency braking would also be more difficult. “If I make a mistake as a pedestrian or cyclist, the tram will catch me. Even if the current cases make it seem as if such accidents are becoming more and more common, that is not the case. After the “Corona hole”, while there wasn’t much going on on the streets, the numbers increased slightly again, but overall they tended to stagnate or decline over time.

Pedestrians’ attention in traffic is also decreasing. “The distraction caused by smartphones is becoming more and more common, even among children,” says Käufler in an interview with OÖN. According to the expert, you perceive 90 percent of the things that happen around you with your eyes. Hearing, on the other hand, only accounts for 10 percent. Many would rely on hearing when a car is coming. But the tram approaches almost silently. “That’s why it’s particularly dangerous when your eyes are distracted by social media.”

Listening to music or podcasts is a little less likely to cause accidents than using a smartphone – especially when cycling. This limits hearing and danger perception. “Listening to a podcast requires cognitive performance. This means that the processing capacity for seeing and hearing is missing.”

Accidents on the road also occur more often when we are stressed. According to Käufler, when we are stressed we pay less attention to sources of danger and make mistakes more quickly. In general, it can be said that the most common causes of accidents (one in three injured) are due to distractions.

According to Susanne Gillhofer, the employees of the Linzer Linien are also made aware of these developments: “Our training program is very extensive and of course we address social developments, such as cell phone use. We also look at every incident and incorporate individual findings into training courses flow in.”

What you should do

If the message you have to write to your work colleague is really important, Käufler advises you to quickly stop typing. “The smartphone has no place when you walk.” Stress should also have no place on the road. “In most cases it’s not worth it. It would be better if possible to leave the house a few minutes earlier so that you don’t make any mistakes. Stress leads to mistakes and mistakes lead to nothing.”

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