Japan: Smartphone accidents spark safety warnings

A woman walks while looking at her smartphone

So many Japanese are falling off rail platforms or bumping into things while staring at smartphones that it's sparked safety campaigns, it seems.

The trend has even acquired a name "Aruki Sumaho" - or smartphone walking - and has reached such levels that phone companies have reportedly joined forces with railway operators and the government to tackle the problem. Japan's largest mobile network NTT Docomo erected a sign on a staircase at one of Tokyo's main stations, Shinjuku, which reads: "Walking while using a smartphone is dangerous... But those people probably didn't see this announcement." According to the Mainichi Daily News, the latest yearly figures show 18 people fell off platforms while using phones, while 60% of people who took part in a survey said they'd been walked into by somebody using a smartphone.

But the paper spoke to one man who argued: "If I don't use the time when I'm walking, my work won't finish." Tokyo's subway has apparently begun making announcements warning of the dangers. There have also been calls to ban the use of smartphones while walking, following the example of the US town that has banned texting while crossing the road.

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