Smombies – look up and watch the traffic

Smombies – look up and watch the traffic


Smombies, also known as smartphone zombies (smombies), aren’t that smart after all. They keep crashing into electricity poles, bus shelters, street signs, newspaper stands, shop sign boards as well as passing vehicle traffic.

An increased risk of pedestrian trauma, serious injuries and even death are likely to occur to zombies.Smombies

SmombiesTexting and talking zombies are the target of the NRMA’s ‘Look Up’ road campaign which specifically asks pedestrians using mobile phones (smombies) to change their behaviour.

In a landmark study, the 2019 pedestrian safety report highlights the danger which mobile phone users pose while texting and walking or listening to sounds through their earphones.

These technology slaves work in the corporate world, government, parliament, the military, not-for-profit associations, small to medium size businesses and within universities. Each seems to rely on incoming mail and digital data to assist them to negotiate the information highway they believe they should be on.  Yet, the travel this highway, they need to take better care of themselves and their surroundings.

‘Look Up’ research paper seeks to highlight the need for greater safety precautions in central business districts including pedestrian refuge islands, reflective pavement marking and under/over pass bridges to isolate pedestrians from traffic.

SmombiesThe report is the fifth instalment in the NRMA’s road safety series based in Sydney, NSW in early 2019. Road traffic experts talk about pedestrian safety in the NRMA’s podcast called Emerging Lanes. To download the ‘Look Up’ report, visit  The article, ‘Don’t be a phone zombie’ is available via the NRMA link.

Angus Griggs of BOSS magazine suggest many in our workplace (and community) need a ‘digital detox’. His article talks of the Constant craving which many people have to look at their mobile phone many times of the day. He claims we are becoming addicted to mobile phones and unable to settle unless we’ve had the buzz of activating some form of social media: Instagram, Reddit, Facebook, Pininterest or Twitter.

He writes that for people 18 to 25 years of age, up to three hours per day of screen time is normal behavior. Is some form of rehabilitation needed for these smombies? Some families insist on ‘No screen time’ after dinner (7.30-10pm) and this makes sense considering the business of the professional day is completed.

Why would anyone send an email or text at 9.30pm if it wasn’t an emergency?  As Grigg has written, “… it’s a comically modern affliction, and has provided a rich new area for those in the self-help industry.”

Photo License Fiona Rothchilds 2015But then, perhaps I forgot that some people live or work in different time zones and forget to check their watch before pressing the email Send button. Their emails arrive early in the morning from New Zealand and at dinner time from Western Australia, and overnight from their northern hemisphere locations.  Apparently in their email/internet world, there is no time like NOW to send the email.

SmombiesUploading text and images for this weblog and onto LinkedIn is manageable outside of Monday to Friday work time. However, anything else takes up valuable time meant for being outdoors for sport, family and friends and taking part in social gatherings.

As Grigg writes, “given the link between staring at your phone and mental illness…” no wonder there is now a rehabilitation clinic for people who are digitally dependent and constantly craving the buzz of e-communication.

Photo License Fiona Rothchilds 2015Perhaps next time I consider the plight of a distressed widow who has just lost the love of her life, or the impetuous whims of a social misfit I’ve met at a heritage lecture, I would be wiser to suggest we e-communicate at a certain time next week. This would be better than planning to meet for a coffee and chat via an Outlook appointment system and then receive a ‘Delete appointment’ message just prior to the meeting at the location at which were meant to meet. Their lack of consideration and poor timing could be happily averted.

At least then, I could cancel the chat meeting myself electronically if my daily YouTube management installment looks too good to miss because it’s on at the same time as I’m meant to be physically meeting someone to listen to their feelings and thoughts on their life matters. Anyone would think these hapless people have never had an ABN to maintain…

As my Austrian associate in the antiques world says, “forget about them and get a Kindle for coffee time …”

But that might begin my travelling on another road on the electronic information highway that’s best left for someone who values a screen-time complexion.  For my money, a walk in the park without a mobile phone brings many health benefits besides developing rosy cheeks and a summer glow. It also ensures pedestrian safety which smombies cannot achieve.


Grigg, Angus (2019) ‘Constant Craving: Move over booze and pills, Australians have a new addiction;’ BOSS, August, p. 10.

NRMA (2019) Don’t be a phone zombie’, Open Road, August, p. 17.

Text copyright held by Fiona Rothchilds™, 2019.
Uploaded 30 August 2019.
Photographs are copyrighted by Fiona Rothchilds 2019 or as assigned.

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