Texting pedestrians
A sign advising pedestrians of the dangers of using smartphones while walking is displayed at an intersection in central Seoul ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

In a bid to keep its pedestrians safe, Seoul has launched a road safety campaign by installing warning signs across the city targeting those who use their smartphones while walking into busy traffic. Authorities have already begun installing the first batch of 300 warning signs in five different locations across the city.

Assuming that the warnings are directed at people who would not raise their heads to look at the road ahead of them or at the warnings, the campaigners have also placed warning signs on the sidewalks.

The signs attached to traffic light poles depict a person about to be hit by a car while walking on the road, preoccupied with a smartphone. However, the locals said they have failed to notice the warning signs as they are too small to catch the smartphone addict's attention. Seoul authorities have decided to wait until the end of the year to see the result of the campaign before expanding the project to other cities.

"We put 250 signs on the pavements because they will actually be seen by the pedestrians that are looking down at their smartphones," AFP quoted a city official in-charge of the project, Kim Ooc-Kyeong, as saying.

"We picked locations with the highest number of young pedestrians since the majority of smartphone users are in their teens to their 30s," he added.

According to South Korea's Transportation Safety Authority, there has been a significant increase in the number of people ignoring traffic rules inadvertently resulting in smartphone-using pedestrians and vehicles bumping into each other. The figures have doubled in the past five years to around 1,000 recorded accidents in 2014.

The state data also revealed the amount of time South Koreans spend on their smartphones. Around 15% of them have shown symptoms of addiction, while on an average a user spends about four hours a day tweeting, chatting or playing games on their phones.

Similar safety campaigns have been tried and tested in Europe. Antwerp introduced separate walking lanes in busy shopping streets, specially dedicated to pedestrians who are constantly gazing into their mobile phones while walking, and to prevent them from colliding with each other or into vehicles.

Augsburg in Germany too had a similar concept installed on pavements at tram crossings to protect and alert texting pedestrians.

Warning sign for texting pedestrians
A sign advising pedestrians of the dangers of using smartphones while walking is displayed at an intersection in central SeoulED JONES/AFP/Getty Images