The NRMA has tagged them "smartphone zombies" - pedestrians who cross roads with their heads down looking at their phone.
A recent study of pedestrians at a number of Sydney intersections found 36 per cent crossed roads while distracted by their phones.
The data echoed that from the Shellharbour area, which prompted council to take action - painting messages on the roadside telling pedestrians to look up.
"Distracted walking is a form of inattentional blindness and when you undertake this behaviour you are effectively playing chicken with fast-moving traffic - the results of which can be catastrophic," said the NRMA's road safety expert Dimitra Vlahomitros.
The NRMA is calling for refuge islands on busy streets and an end to turning traffic getting a green light the same time as pedestrians get a walk signal.