'Was your text worth it?' Luas drivers pulled emergency break 550 times this year, mostly for pedestrians
Luas drivers have pulled the emergency brakes some 550 times this year so far, new figures have shown.
According to Transdev, 223 of these were because of pedestrians "suddenly entering the tramway".
Dervla Brophy, communications manager at Transdev, explained that the transport operator has noticed a rise in people walking across the street on their phones- without looking both ways.
"What we have found the last few months is that the figures this year in relation to emergency brakes are up in comparison to last year. But they’re only up with a particular category of road users - and that’s pedestrians," Ms Brophy said on RTÉ Radio One on Monday.
"From our observations what’s causing it is the headphones and smartphones, and probably our addictions to our phones. People are putting their headphones in, the hoods are going up, it’s a grey day out there today, and they’re looking down.
"As a result, what’s happening is they’re not looking left or right, they’re totally distracted."
Of the 37 million journeys made on the Luas last year- expected to rise to 44 million this year- the emergency brake was pulled 570 times for the whole of 2017.
"In terms of emergency brakes, 223 emergency brakes this year were in relation to pedestrians, and last year there was 203," Ms Brophy said.
"There have been collisions between trams and pedestrians, but one incident is one incident too many. Thankfully, the number of incidents is very low, it’s 20 or under, but the fact of the matter is it’s one incident too many.
"Trams need time to stop, they can’t just come to an automatic stop. So someone walking along a busy city centre street this morning might just walk straight out in front of a tram and if it wasn’t for the skill of the driver, it could be a different story."
A Luas spokesperson explained that drivers are trained in what is known as "defensive driving" to help them prepare for pedestrian behaviours.
"Drivers are trained in defensive driving. They are trained to anticipate in their line of sight what other people are inclined to do," they told Independent.ie.
"An emergency brake also depends on the environment a tram is in. It’s more difficult for a tram to come to a stop at a higher speed than a lower speed, and depends on a number of circumstances, like the weather."
According to Transdev, using the emergency brake can have a number of implications, and the company is issuing a warning to pedestrians to take care when crossing tram lines.
"The use of emergency brakes is not a pleasant experience for those on board. Think of the injury you could sustain as a pedestrian or the damage you could do to your car as a motorist. Even minor damages, like replacing phones.
"Was your text, post, tweet, DM, snapchat or LOL message really worth it?"