In light of the recent Aaron Deveau homicide case, I thought it appropriate to look into other dangerous aspects of texting especially here in Seoul. 18-year-old Deveau is the first person to have been tried and convicted of texting while driving. It led to the death of 55-year-old Donald Bowley. Apparently, Deveau crossed the centerline of the road while texting, causing a head on collision.
Dangerous methods of texting
In addition to driving and texting, walking and texting, biking and texting and riding motorcycle and texting all can be very dangerous. In Seoul, in the past few years, I’ve witnessed an ever-increasing number of dangerous pedestrian texting. If by writing this, I prevent one accident it will have been well worth the effort.
In the movie “Dawn of the Dead” people turned into zombies after having been bitten by one. They marched down streets and walkways in a kind of unconscious daze in search human flesh. The movie's intent was to frighten, but at times, was quite comical. Sadly, sometimes, Seoul seems to be engaged in some kind of unconscious "zombie” march. No attention appears present outside and away from tiny lit telephone screens. I've seen people walk into one another and into things as they were texting. It's kind of funny to watch at times, but the reality is: it’s dangerous.
High pedestrian casualty rates
S. Korea has the highest pedestrian casualty percentage rate of all OECD member countries, (there are a lot of member countries). The high casualty rate is aided by the fact that: (1) motorcycles are allowed to drive on sidewalks, (2) cars are allowed to drive on sidewalks; (3) many sidewalks are not appropriately wide enough, (4) business is conducted on the sidewalks (i.e. flea markets, food, clothing, house wares, hardware, etc.) (5) few people seem to be alert (6) many motorists treat traffic lights as suggestions rather than law. Red lights are commonly run with little or no consequences.
The ultimate exacerbation
It seems that very large numbers of Seoul pedestrians are texting and walking. The lack of attention combined with an already dangerous set of sidewalk conditions is an exacerbating combination. Endless close calls ensue punctuated with more than ocasional injuries.
The 40-minute experiment (seen on slideshow)
I wanted to see how many examples of texting and walking on busy streets and intersections I could photograph in 40 minutes. I began a block from my house (just north of Boramae Station –western region of Seoul). Even I was amazed at how many examples of texting I could photograph in such a short period of time. Not only did I photograph them, but I think I showed how dangerous it is. In one case, I even photographed a student engrossed in reading novel while crossing the intersection.
Rest of the world views
The world is becoming more aware of the various dangerous texting venues. Severe penalties have been imposed on a number of people for having caused injury and death while texting. In the United States there are now many cities that have imposed stiff fines for walking and texting (i.e. Philidelphia-$120.00, New Jersy $85.00, etc.)
Some healthy recommendations
If you are compelled to text, consider using the new diction application on the IPhone. At least then, you may keep your eye on the road.
Walking is wonderful healthy alternate choice for transportation, especially now that it's warm outside. Consider focusing on the nature, weather and beauty that surrounds Seoul, rather than the telephone.
You could always direct your attention to the goings on of Seoul and decrease your risk of getting injured.
Consider talking to someone nearby thus doing away with the need to text at all (at least on the street).