Smartphone zombies and intersections.

Smartphone zombies and intersections.


Smartphone zombies are causing major problems at intersections and cross-roads which can be resolved by turning off their mobile phone when walking.

If you’ve stood at an intersection or bus stop and watched office workers leave their building at the end of the day, one of the first things they do is turn on their mobile phone. Some of them only just make it to their bus stop or car park without colliding with concrete bollards, lighting poles, cyclists, and other pedestrians.

Noel Butlin

Look out for blind corners on the road while walking.

They are intent to get their ‘news feeds of the day’ but in the process almost end up injured or dead. This is not something that only happens in Australia. It is a world-wide problem where ever mobile phone reception is possible.

The people who are at fault are known as pedestrians. People who walk by foot are known as pedestrians. When we know that the word pede comes from the root Latin word ped and its Greek counterpart is pod we can see that both words mean “foot” which relates to the action of walking.

Smartphone zombies

Trip hazards for walkers and bus commuters.

These Latin and Greek roots are the word origin of many English vocabulary words, including pedal, centipede, podium, and podiatrist.

They are beginning to be characterized in films as ‘technology distracted’.  They walk around with their heads down reading their mobile phone or texting. Some in the media call these people ‘smartphone zombies’.

If you’ve seen the last few moments of the Nordic film ‘Kings Bay‘ you’ll know to what I’m referring. The film highlights a growing problem of pedestrians stepping out from walkways and footpaths into oncoming traffic.

  • Caveat emptor: in the film ‘Kings Bay’, the events involving journalist ‘Hari’ and her associates did not happen. The film is a work of fiction which is peppered with some historical facts to encourage believability. What the film does is cleverly highlight a key work, health and safety (WHS) issue which users of mobile technology should take on board.

Kings BayPedestrians distracted by technology is a serious and recurring problem. In particular, of growing concern is the situation where pedestrians on footpaths expect that drivers reversing down driveways in vehicles will stop for them. A mobile phone is not your armored tank vehicle. A mobile phone will not protect you from vehicle injury.

Have you seen the automated cars recently on television news? If so, you will know that a pedestrian cannot rely on a driver seeing them and taking time to stop for pedestrians. A smartphone zombie could be injured all too easily by a driverless car.

Emily Dickinson

Heads up & no mobile phones

There are two safety lessons shown at the end of the film ‘Kings Bay’ to remember:
1. Turn off your mobile phone when walking.
2. Look both ways before stepping out of entrances and exits.

The International SOS (ISOS) website has information written for the mobile workforce entering specific countries. In general though, when travelling – especially when in city traffic – look both ways before stepping out. If you do not take care of yourself as a pedestrian, do not expect anyone else will. Leaving pedestrian safety up to someone else is not called being ‘a responsible adult’.

If you travel in the United States of America, some states have banned texting while walking. Smartphone zombies are not encouraged to cross the road while texting.

Smartphone zombies

“Mind the gap, your Majesty”

If you’re travelling in China, Germany or the Netherlands, there are specific ways that the governments are now managing pedestrians and smartphone zombies.**

Wherever you travel, even though the law is in your favour as a pedestrian, you must still protect yourself from harm. Trying to force a car or bus to stop because you are standing on the footpath is foolish behavior. You have a self-responsibility to take care of yourself and protect your safety.

Safety first

Smartphone zombies.

Don’t be a ‘smartphone zombie’. Look up and keep your eyes on the road – for your own safety. It is better to be late – than to never arrive. Not answering that incoming mobile phone call won’t kill you: but walking out into the traffic just might.

Text copyright Fiona Rothchilds with acknowledgement to ISOS and those quoted.
Photo images by Fiona Rothchilds.
Uploaded 14 August 2017.

**See Shelby Lorman’s article ‘The First Major American City Bans Crossing the Street While Texting’ at

To read my article on ‘Safety First for Mobile Workforce’ click here:

A short trailer of ‘Kings Bay’ film, is shown here:

To read my short film review of ‘Kings Bay’, click here:

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