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Smombie Swedes hurt in smartphone accidents

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Smombie Swedes hurt in smartphone accidents
Don't text and drive! Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT
15:29 CEST+02:00
Hundreds of tech-addicted Swedish cyclists or pedestrians have been injured in the past ten years because they were unable to tear their gaze from their smartphone, according to official statistics.

Whether they're retweeting a hashtag, replying to a WhatsApp message or telling Facebook friends about their breakfast, Swedes distracted by smartphones are putting themselves in danger in traffic.

In the past decade, at least 650 pedestrians and cyclists have been injured so seriously in accidents linked to mobile phone usage that they have required emergency care, according to figures put together by the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) on behalf of SVT.

“The most common and most serious is that they get hit by motor vehicles. Almost as common is that they walk into lampposts, but the injuries aren't as serious then,” agency analyst Tomas Fredlund told the broadcaster.

The Local has previously written about the so-called smombies (smartphone zombies) roaming the streets of Sweden, with a European survey last month suggesting Stockholm residents are the most prone to putting themselves at risk in traffic after analyzing 14,000 pedestrians across six capitals.

"One incident in Stockholm made a particular impression: a young girl stood in the middle of the road, got her cellphone out and started texting. It wasn't until a bus driver sounded his horn that she realized where she was standing and moved on," commented a German expert at the time.

It is not the first time the tech-savvy Swedes' apparent addiction to the world of social media has been the topic of debate.

One of the creatives behind an ingenious unofficial road sign which went viral after it warned people of the smartphone zombies, spoke to The Local last year about the craze.

"I am dependent on social media myself. And one day on my way to work I was almost run over because I was staring at my phone like a sick person. It hit me then that I'm not the only one with this behaviour and that it ought to be addressed somehow," Jacob Sempler, who created these signs with his colleague Emil Tiisman, said at the time.

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