Wake-up call: Accidents linked to smartphone use rising in Tokyo

JIJI

Amid the proliferation of smartphones, accidents involving those using them while walking have been on the rise, the Tokyo Fire Department warned.

In 2013, a total of 36 people in Tokyo were taken to hospitals by ambulance as a result of accidents stemming from the use of mobile devices, chiefly smartphones, while walking or riding bicycles, according to a recent survey by the department.

The number of injured has been growing since 2010 and is up 1.5 times since then, the department said.

Of last year’s total, five people got into accidents during phone conversations and 26 were injured while using other mobile handset functions.

“Using mobile phones while walking is dangerous, as it not only puts you at risk of injury but also can injure people around you,” said an official of the department.

From 2010 to 2013, a total of 122 people were taken to hospitals in ambulances due to similar accidents in Tokyo. By age, people in their 40s formed the largest group, followed by those in their 20s.

Of that total, some 40 percent bumped into other people or street objects, while the remainder tripped or fell over. Though about 80 percent of them were only slightly injured, some cases resulted in hospitalization and in one incident the death of a man, the department said.

Last October, a 47-year-old man who was walking and looking at his mobile phone stepped onto a railroad crossing in Itabashi Ward, Tokyo, and was killed by a train.

In May 2013, a 10-year-old boy who was operating his handset was seriously injured after falling off the platform at Tokyo’s Yotsuya Station. In Katsushika Ward the same month, an 82-year-old woman was knocked down and injured after being hit by another woman who was walking while using her device.

According to the fire department, more than 80 percent of accidents linked to the use of smartphones and other mobile phones take place on streets or transportation facilities, especially train stations.