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What is the best way to prevent pedestrians, glued to their smartphones, from stepping carelessly into oncoming traffic, falling off train platforms or bumping into each other on the sidewalk?

27 Comments

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Ten years living here, it’s not just the smartphone-glued people, it’s everyone! In car parks pedestrians here act as if your car backing out of a space is invisible. Cultural thing? The arrogance of people here is astonishing. Or is it heiwa bokke?

3 ( +8 / -5 )

There's no way to prevent it. People have to look after themselves.

I think it's definitely some kind of cultural thing here...little kids will often just run straight into you, not looking where they are going, then as adults they continue to bump into things and each other.

I often have to avoid people who have just looked staight at me, yet then crab walked directly into my path.

Plus the Mothers on bikes who will look at you as they approach a corner, but then just plough straight on.

There's a distinct lack of...care(?) in Tokyo.

I don't think there is a solution.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I've had a few close calls, and I think the problem is heiwa boke. They know the car will stop, because even if it's 100% the zombie's fault, the driver will go to jail and have his life ruined. I don't remember exactly, but I think back in Europe responsability in case of an accident was more fairly evaluated

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Three things.

Disable the phone when it is moving. Change the culture of the world. Let Darwinism take its course.
11 ( +11 / -0 )

They know the car will stop

That's not always what I experience or see!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

One thing I've noticed over the decades here is that the Japanese have absolutely no peripheral vision.

It seems to me that "far peripheral" just doesn't exist here. "Mid peripheral" from 60 degrees to 30 degrees, in my experience, few people here have. More likely from 30 degrees and bellow.

Add to that staring at your smartphone.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Think, the smartphone zombie on the narrow pavements peddling a bike, I witness this daily.

I have taken to pulling out a Shoreline Marine Air Horn, 1.4 oz. It wakes then up

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not only phone addiction. Generally people here seem to be pretty unaware and aimless in the way they walk and perceive their surroundings. Not sure what can be done. Maybe more "ki o tsukete" announcements.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

same with the other commenters, the pedestrians walk like they're the king of the road and expect other pedestrians to weave around them and for vehicles to stop and wait for them as they walk without haste. I really see no practical way of preventing phone zombies from getting off their gadgets for at least ten seconds to quickly cross the street and get out of dodge. I've tapped the shoulders of other pedestrians who were about to ram into light posts before, maybe that could work? tap the shoulders of phone zombies, but I already foresee seku-hara complaints with this idea.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think its the most efficient way to walk in crowded places in Japan. If you start to be polite and aware of others, you will end up performing Brownian movement.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Road: if it is a major city then I consider the cars to be the problem. I would rather be able to walk around relatively freely on roads rather than be able to drive.

Platforms: platform-edge doors and lighting would help, but I agree that people should be more aware of their surroundings here. You could request that phone usage be kept to platforms where such doors exist.

Walking: honestly it's a free world and it would be over-policing to care about people being distracted while walking.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Rather than laying blame on the so called social construct of Heiwa-Boke - it has many wider nuances - a more appropriate expression would be the common term Tennen-Boke 天然ボケ (naturally stupid, brainless, airhead etc).

I've often heard it used in relation to people doing dumb things like in the article - reading a phone while stepping onto a street.

And meld that with Amae 甘え (also many nuances but for this point a dependence or reliance on others) and you have a cocktail for the phone troubles described.

I recommend reading the renowned Japanese psychiatrist Takeo Doi's excellent book "The Anatomy of Dependence".

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Do not give way to these keitai zombies !

If every person took out several KZ’s every day, the KZ’s may eventually get the message.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Just let them fall off or get hit. It's the only way they'll learn...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Isn’t that easily to solve technically? Those phones are mostly quite well equipped with moving , gyro sensors and GPS as well as cell detection, so when moving at any speed they could be switched off and when not moving to be switched on again automatically. Ok, you cannot use them in cars then too, but that’s not so bad in general too, or even that could be allowed again when detecting on driving roads and at higher than walking speeds or connected with the car’s information system via Bluetooth or WiFi spot.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I let them walk right into me with them getting a hard stern shoulder or chest to greet them. School of hard knocks.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Just leave them to it. If they survive, they will be more careful next time.

The government are not our parents and we are not children. Something that needs to be yelled from the rooftops these last two years.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It is cultural. If you stand in the middle of a soccer field, and randomly put a blind folded Japanese near one of the four corners and tell them to walk, within 2 minutes they will walk into you. Guaranteed!

I agree with the above person about lack of peripheral vision. I have the same issue but have been tested for it and told I am ok.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It’s the tyranny of the weak and stupid. They were protected and now they outnumber the strong and smart.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Don't try to prevent it. They're all stupid.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In winter at night, I am all for male high school students riding bikes no hands no lights doing keitai.

Only way to see ‘em.

Walking keitai zombies - especially with earlier phones - I just stop till the danger strikes or just floats past unawares. Not much else to do except have a fight or have some new extra rule to follow.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How about introducing motion detector which stops the smartphone or other electronic devices processing applications? That doesn't require any regulations, and people will stop at the specific side on the street in order to have the smartphone work. I think recent technology can realize the idea soon. More safety, less anxiety.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

BertieWoosterToday 06:53 pm JST

"Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder!"

For the one closest to you.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Zombies drink more beer please. Nothing will change phone zombies its a pandemic in itself. Everyone sooo addicted to phone that they forgot life existed and stuck in black hole.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Kind of like Sven Asai commented, but couldn't some miniaturized version of automotive environmental awareness apps and attachments be designed into a phone? Seems like it would be easier than trying to redesign Human behavior. Just a short distance proximity awareness and 'void' detector', plus co-operation from the infrastructure with small, gluable machine readable signs for curbs, edges of platforms, doors, et alia, coupled with an optical scanner, maybe through the camera, alerting the user to streets, people, obstacles just ahead maybe by blanking the screen for a brief moment or a large "Look Out!" appearing onscreen? We've had a couple of urban rail fatalities just in this local area due to phone zombieism and it's sad to see the little memorials put up at a crossing. Again, which would be more difficult, developing simple new tech or hoping to change Human behavior? And if we find avoiding such people too difficult, we could wear a little button with the 'avoidance' alert on it? Any suggestions? Or too crazy?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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