The Korea Herald


'Smart crosswalk' deactivates kids' smartphones for fewer traffic accidents

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : March 29, 2024 - 13:11

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Children walk into a classroom of an elementary school, March 4. (Yonhap) Children walk into a classroom of an elementary school, March 4. (Yonhap)

A crosswalk with devices for child safety has been implemented in front of an elementary school Nam-gu, Busan, in a bid to reduce traffic accidents involving children.

The Nam-gu district office installed what it calls a "smart crosswalk" on the road in front of Yeonpo Elementary School, which had been infamous for frequent car accidents due to its narrow sidewalk and an adjacent downhill slope that led to cars speeding across it.

The main feature of the crosswalk is a device that deactivates smartphones within one meter of it. Children are required by school to install an app, which the device detects and deactivates the screens of any phones close by.

This is to prevent children from absentmindedly walking into the road while looking at their smartphones.

The district has also implemented other safety measures including: widening the crosswalk and installing an LED sign telling drivers to be aware of pedestrians, a sign that reminds drivers of the 30 kilometers-per-hour speed limit and surveillance cameras.

A voice recording reminds pedestrians on the crosswalk not to walk into the road, and LED guidance lights are installed to highlight the crosswalk at night. Authorities also installed a bumpy platform to help visually-impaired pedestrians become aware of where the crosswalk is.

According to the Road Traffic Authority, 933 people died in 2022 due to traffic accidents that occurred while they were walking on roads.

Research suggests that a considerable portion of such traffic accidents occurs due to smartphone use. Local think tank Samsung Traffic Safety Research Institute in 2022 conducted a study of 1,791 traffic accident cases that occurred because the victim was distracted, and found that in 61.7 percent, the victim was using a smartphone.

The trend of walking while looking at one's smartphone has even led to the coining of the new slang term, “smombie,” a portmanteau of "smartphone" and "zombie." The term likens the people walking while absorbed in their smartphones to zombies.