Texting leads to assault

Elderly CBD resident Eva wants something done about “texting pedestrians”, having been deliberately injured by one outside her Collins St home on May 23.

The 75-year-old (who doesn’t want her surname revealed for fear of reprisals) said she walked out of her apartment block at 3.30 pm and turned right to walk to the bank.

“I felt an object – a phone as it turns out – in my back,” she recalled. “The next thing I felt was a woman’s hands on my shoulders and then she pushed me to the ground.”

Eva suffered a fractured rib, a dislocated hip and internal bleeding in the fall.  But, perhaps the worst thing, was being assaulted for impeding the progress of someone who wasn’t looking where she was going because she was texting on her phone.

“I guess I wasn’t walking at the same pace, but that’s no reason to throw me face down on the footpath,” she said.

Eva described her attacker as a well-dressed, 40-something, professional-looking woman.

“She looked miserable,” Eva said. “You know how some women reach a certain age and just become miserable?”

“Maybe she felt better when she pushed me over,” she said.

Eva reported that her assailant stopped and joined a throng of people who stopped to enquire about her health.

“But she didn’t hang around.  She knew what she had done and took off,” she said.

She initially insisted she wasn’t injured and continued to the bank to cash a cheque.  It was only later that she realised how damaged she was – particularly when she saw blood on her pillow the next morning.

In the few minutes that CBD News spent with Eva on the footpath outside her home, four pedestrians passed with their heads bowed and their eyes and fingers firmly on their keyboards.

She thinks new laws are needed to compel pedestrians to watch where they are going on Melbourne’s footpaths.

“If they want to text, they should be stationary because accidents can happen,” she said.

There are instances in the US where it is illegal to text while crossing streets, but that’s really about protecting pedestrians from themselves.  So far, no jurisdiction has legislated to protect pedestrians from other pedestrians.

Victoria Walks executive officer Ben Rossiter told CBD News he didn’t think that laws governing how people walked around the city needed to change.

“That’s an assault.  There’s laws to cover that,” he said. “I don’t think laws need to change.  That should be dealt with under the existing laws of the criminal code.”

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