It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you’ve certainly seen it and may have even done it yourself a few times. Walking while staring down at a smartphone has become a troubling pedestrian habit, even in Japan where it’s called aruki-sumaho. As the technology rapidly becomes more widespread, you’d expect people to get a little savvier and a little safer while using it. However, a study by the Tokyo Fire Department revealed that the number of accidents where a victim had to be taken away in an ambulance after walking while using a smartphone last year has increased to 1.5 times the number in 2010.

As ambulances are managed by the fire departments in Japan, they were able to record how many people got carried away in one after being too engrossed in their apps. In 2010, the amount of people put in ambulance from arukisumaho related accidents was 23 in Tokyo.

Last year, that number increased to 36 for an increase of 56 percent. NTV News illustrated one incident last October in which a 47-year-old man unknowingly walked into a railroad crossing just as the barrier was going down. He hadn’t noticed because he was staring at the screen of his smartphone and got hit by a passing train and died. Although it seems a little odd to use an ambulance in that case, the message is loud and clear.

Readers reacted in shock saying, “that’s still really not that many people.” Indeed 36 people would only amount to 0.0003 percent of Tokyo’s population. However, that didn’t stop others from professing their annoyance with smartphone using walkers with one saying, “In Grand Theft Auto, I hit everyone I see walking with a smartphone with my golf club.”

On the other hand, some came out in defense of aruki-sumaho saying there are far greater bad habits of people on the streets such as smoking. I for one agree. I always use my smartphone while walking and nothing ever happened to me. In fact I’m typing this entire article on my smartphone while I’m walking and absolutely nothi

Source: NTV News 24 via Hachima Kiko (Japanese)