Can we stop the smartphone zombie invasion?
Don’t leave your house – they’re out there. The country is crawling with smartphone zombies. They shuffle along our streets, staring into their smartphones, their slackjawed faces glowing an eerie green from their screens. They seem oblivious to their surroundings, lost in a twilight world of YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat. They bump into lampposts and parking meters, and step blithely into the path of oncoming cars, buses, trams and bicycles. They are a menace to society – and to themselves.
In the US, almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016, an increase of 9 per cent on the previous year, and authorities are blaming smartphone use for the rise in fatalities.
One Fianna Fáil TD has decided to tackle the scourge of “distracted walking”. John Lahart, the party’s Dublin spokesman, has issued a statement highlighting the dangers of texting, tweeting and watching videos when you should be watching where you’re going. “Safety measures must be introduced to prevent injury and/or collision,” he said.
He’s not alone in the world. The Hawaiian city of Honolulu has recently introduced a law allowing the city’s Five-O (the cops, Dano) to fine pedestrians up to $35 for walking with their eyes on their smartphones instead of on the path ahead of them.
Hong Kong and Ontario, Canada, are considering laws to curb smartphone use while walking, while in the city of Salzburg in Austria, airbags have been wrapped around lampposts to soften the idiot impact. Towns in Germany and the Netherlands have embedded LED strips at busy intersections, so people can see whether the crossing light is green or red without having to look up from their smartphones.
Most countries have laws banning drivers from using smartphones; perhaps we need to legislate for pedestrian phone use, and not just leave it up to Darwin’s law.