Jun 23, 2016

    Street warning signs for Seoul's smartphone 'addicts'


    PEDESTRIANS glued to their smartphones are being given something else to look at, as officials in Seoul launched a safety campaign to keep them from walking into busy traffic.

    Smartphone-related collisions between pedestrians and vehicles in South Korea have more than doubled in five years to around 1,000 last year, according to the Transportation Safety Authority.

    The problem is especially acute in a country where smartphone penetration currently stands at around 80 per cent of the population.

    To reduce the number of people stepping carelessly into oncoming traffic or slamming into each other, officials in Seoul - one of the world's most-wired cities - have begun installing the first batch of 300 warning signs this week in five locations across the capital.

    "We picked locations with the highest number of young pedestrians since the majority of smartphone users are in their teens to their 30s," said Kim Ooc Kyeong, a Seoul city official.

    Some signs attached to traffic light poles depict a person looking at his smartphone as he is about to be hit by a car.

    Signs have also been plastered on the sidewalk. "We put 250 signs on the pavements because they will actually be seen by the pedestrians that are looking down at their smartphones," Mr Kim said.

    But the warnings do not seem to have drawn attention.

    "I'm always on my smartphone and I've never seen the signs before," said Kim Hyun Chul, 29.

    South Korean smartphone users spend an average of four hours a day tweeting, chatting or playing games, with about 15 per cent showing signs of addiction, according to state data.