Seoul has been putting up signs warning pedestrians to take care whilst using their mobile devices on the go. Known as smartphone zombies, pedestrians who use their smartphones without paying attention to their surroundings have caused an increase in the number of smartphone-related traffic accidents in the Korean capital.
Last week, the Seoul Metropolitan Government began putting up signs in the streets and on the pavements at five locations that warn people of the dangers of using their devices whilst walking. City Hall, Hongik and Yonsei universities, Gangnam and Jamsil subway stations have all had these signs implemented.
However, the Korean Times have reported that few pedestrians have noticed have noticed these signs, which thereby questions their effecitvenes. The online Korean newspaper quotes 14-year-old middle school student Park Guinam, who was using his phone whilst waiting for the bus in front of City Hall in downtown Seoul on Sunday,
“I guess there needs to be a lot of more of the signs for people to start seeing them.”
A 35-year-old office worker, surnamed Jun, was also quoted to have said,
“I have noticed the signs on the pavement, but honestly, most people who are peering at their phones on the street aren’t going to be able to see them.”
According to the Korea Transport Safety Authority, the number of smartphone-related traffic accidents has more than doubled from 437 cases in 2009 to 1111 cases in 2014. The study showed that pedestrians were aware of sounds form cars from 14.4 meters away from them in average, but this distance was halved when their attention was preoccupied with using their smartphone.
The UK and Sweden also have warning signs, whilst Belgium has implemented a separate lane for smartphone users.
Seoul will set up 300 signs over a six month trial period throughout the rest of the year. After the trial, a discussion with the National Police Agency will determine whether these signs are officially necessary.