Walking through cities is hazardous enough these days, and now there’s something new to worry about. Pedestrians who are engrossed in their mobile phone.

There’s a new term been coined for people who do this – smombies - which is an amalgamation of ‘smart phone’ and ‘zombie’.

It’s not just in cities that you run the risk of being smombied either, it’s a worldwide phenomenon. 

In Seoul, a city with one of the highest levels of smart phone ownership, they have now installed special lights in the pavements at busy road junctions just so they can catch the eye of someone who is walking along with their head down reading their phone.

A garage in San Francisco has even employed a guy called Manni whose job in life is to stop cars from hitting people who are so involved in their phone, they don’t notice they’re about to be run over.

Hospitals the world over are reporting a steady increase in accidents involving people being distracted while using their mobile phone. 

Tram drivers in some city centres are now spending their time with their hand poised over the horn to warn people who are so deep in their social media feed that they don’t see the huge vehicle hurtling towards them.

The current craze for Pokemon Go isn’t helping either, with a big rise in reports of people risking their lives watching where that elusive Pokemon is going, rather than watching where they are going.

With the pressures of modern life to remain constantly connected, up to date and in the know, it makes sense for people to seek ways to do so while not risking their lives driving while texting or walking in front of moving vehicles.

Apple watches and Samsung’s Gear 2 provide ways for people to receive notifications about important emails or social media feeds without having to use their phones. 

There’s even a little device you can buy called Ditto which will let you choose which notifications you want to know about – such as whether your beloved has sent you an email with the details of the surprise party you’re organising.

Smart phones are here to stay, whether we like it or not. 

Along with those phones comes certain dangers – the main one being the danger of addiction.  I’m sure, like me, you know of someone who is constantly on their phone – during meetings, watching TV, during visits to restaurants, when they’re with friends or family.  It’s the first thing they do in the morning when they wake up and the last thing they do before they go to sleep.

And talking of sleep, smombies are often zombie like in their working day, because they’re not sleeping properly.  They’re tired and wired all the time, which affects both their productivity and their attention span. 

Research has also shown that when someone is texting or using their smart phone while walking they walk more slowly, so while they may think they’re saving time sending that email while en route to somewhere else, they are in fact taking longer to reach their destination!

What can be done about it?

Well in short, not much at the moment, although there are various devices and – yes you’ve guessed it – mobile phone apps being developed that will help to alert people to look up as they reach crossing points on the road.

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