‘Smartphone zombie’ fine cheered on Chinese social media


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A woman has been fined for being a “smartphone zombie” in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou, and social media users in China are supporting the move.

The woman, identified as Ms Hu, was fined 10 yuan (£1.15) for using her mobile phone while crossing the road.

The Wenzhou Evening Post reports that the woman violated regulations which came into effect on New Year’s Day banning “activities affecting other vehicles or pedestrians”.

Reports of the fine, believed to be the first in the city, have drawn thousands of comments on the popular Chinese social media platform Weibo, with many applauding the move.

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A number of people called the fine “commendable” and a “very good” idea.

One commenter wrote that they “support” the fine, before urging people to “be responsible for others, and responsible for yourself!”

Some called for the regulations to be “rolled out nationwide” to raise awareness of traffic safety.

Others argued that the small fine should be more punitive, suggesting “it should start at 100 yuan (£11.50)”.

A popular comment welcomed the new regulations, but added a note of personal concern: “I think this is very good, but I think I’m at huge risk of being punished.”

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While the majority of reaction to the fine has been supportive, some have asked questions about how it will operate.

“If I happen to be on a zebra crossing and someone calls me, should I not answer the phone? In the process of rejecting the call, there’s a tendency to look down at your phone. Is that allowed?,” one person wrote on Weibo.

A number of others questioned where the small amounts of money raised by the fines will go.

The problem of distracted pedestrians tapping on their phones is not confined to Wenzhou.

The northern Chinese city of Xi’an has tried to tackle the issue by installing designated lanes for pedestrians using their phones.

Elsewhere, the Hawaiian city of Honolulu introduced legislation to outlaw phone zombies in 2017. The Distracted Walking bill means that pedestrians can be fined $15-$35 (£11-£27) for looking at their phones while crossing the road.

In fact, people shuffling about while looking at their phones has become such an issue in Germany, they have coined a word for them – smombies – a portmanteau of “smartphone zombies”.


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