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Walkers who cross roads while reading phones fined

By YANG CHENG in Tianjin | China Daily | Updated: 2021-01-13 08:59

Hundreds of pedestrians in Tianjin have been punished so far this year for looking at their phones or other devices while crossing the road.

Since Jan 1, the municipality-one of the first in the country to enact such regulation-has been regulating such behavior and has punished at least 345 pedestrians.

The regulation stipulates that distracted pedestrians first receive a warning or possibly a fine of 50 yuan ($7.70) if they refuse to correct their behavior, said Xing Yi, deputy director of the order management department under the Tianjin Traffic Police Headquarters.

"The warning is not a simple reminder, like just verbal persuasion, but it is a legal process with a legal punishment notice issued to the pedestrians," Xing said.

Those who refuse to cooperate with the traffic police or whose deeds have harmed other people's traffic security will be fined 50 yuan, he said.

Zhou Xin, deputy division head of the Nanjing Road Police Area, a busy traffic area in Tianjin, told China Daily that he has issued such punishment four to five times each day, and the legal warning has been effective in the majority of cases.

The new regulation is aimed at raising people's awareness in risk prevention when they read mobile devices while walking, said Yang Yingjun, deputy director of the accident prevention and management detachment.

There is a rising trend of people reading mobile devices while crossing roads, which raises the risk of traffic accidents, he said.

He reiterated that in 2019, a local university student who was reading a mobile phone while crossing a road in the coastal Binhai New Area was struck and killed by a large truck.

Similar tragedies have been reported in many cities, which prompted them to enact similar measures.

For example, Taizhou and Wenzhou cities in Zhejiang province have enforced similar regulations since 2019, fining pedestrians 10 yuan for watching electronic devices while walking.

Yang also stressed that the tightened measures in traffic management are improving pedestrian safety, as the traffic death toll has dropped by 10 percent year-on-year on average since 2008. Yang added that more measures are in urgent need to help protect local people's lives.

Many people have expressed their support for the regulations on social media.

"I think higher fines should be issued for people who read mobile phones on the road," said a netizen on local news app Jinyun.

The writer cited statistics from China Youth Daily that showed 28.3 percent of people admitted that they have a habit of taking out their mobile phones and reading when walking.

Research released by people.com supported their views that if a pedestrian focuses his or her attention on mobile phone messages, the attention on nearby cars is significantly lower than when walking without a mobile phone, and the risks of traffic accidents rise significantly.

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