South Korea's new signs warn against smartphone use while walking

Texting while driving is outlawed in several places because of the life-threatening consequences of such actions, both for the driver and others around him. Texting while walking, on the other hand, is now almost just as dangerous and, in fact, is starting to become illegal in certain places. While South Korea isn't yet taking such extreme measures, the country's capital will be installing new traffic signs that inform, warn, and hopefully admonish pedestrians not to use their smartphones while walking, or, worse, crossing the street.

We've heard it all before. Anecdotes of people falling or bumping into awkward situations because of walking with their eyes glued to their smartphone screens. Sometimes, however, it's no laughing matter, with accidents ending in tragedy. Young people 10 to 30 years of age everywhere exhibit the same symptoms, and South Korea is trying to curb it before it becomes too much of an epidemic.

Being home to smartphone giants like Samsung and LG, it isn't a surprise that smartphone use is very high in the peninsula. And with ubiquitous and non-stop use come the accidents associated with using smartphones while walking on streets, especially those where vehicles pass by. And so the Seoul Metropolitan Government has decided to install traffic signs in an initial five areas within the city.

The irony of this situation, however, is that for users to actually see those signs, they would need to detach their eyes and lift their heads, which is actually the problem in the first place. Some countries or cities have instated more forceful measures, from delegating a specific "smartphone lane" for pedestrians where they're free to bump into each other, or outright making such behavior illegal.

Hopefully, for now, Korea's methods would be enough. Based on human nature, it might not be.

SOURCE: Seoul Metropolitan Government