CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (2/21/2019 Thu.)

CHINA

Podcast: Story in the Story (2/21/2019 Thu.)

People's Daily app

01:43, February 21, 2019

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From the People's Daily app.

And this is Story in the Story.

Gone are the days when it was okay to walk around staring at your smartphone and be completely oblivious to your surroundings. 

More and more cities in the US and Europe are implementing laws which make it an offense to cross the street while looking at your phone and they are doing it for personal safety reasons. 

China too is starting to see the value in laws such as that. Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province is one such city that introduced regulations outlawing the practice on January 1st and it did not take long for someone to be fined. 

A pedestrian in Wenzhou received the city's first ticket for watching their smartphone when crossing a street within two weeks of the new law being enacted. 

The pedestrian was fined ten yuan ($1.40). Traffic police said looking at smartphones when crossing a street is dangerous and also blocks other pedestrians and cyclers. 

Today's story in the story looks at how this is a growing trend and how authorities are tackling it.

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A woman watches her smartphone when walking on a zebra crossing in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. (File Photo: VCG) 

Local authorities in Wenzhou say they brought in the new regulation to encourage people to cross the street as soon as possible. 

As drivers have to wait for pedestrians at a zebra crossing, some pedestrians refuse to stop watching their smartphone and walk slowly, leaving drivers waiting for a long time. The penalty aims to remind pedestrians of their own safety and saving time of drivers who wait for them, said traffic police. 

Volunteers wearing cartoon costumes send toys to those who abide by the rule and cross the street quickly to promote the policy. 

Last year, the Baltic country Lithuania had launched a similar policy. Pedestrians will be fined $23 to $45 for watching their smartphone when crossing the street. 

Most of the time it is pedestrians that are victims of traffic accidents. However, a recent road collision in China proved that a pedestrian can also be the main cause of an accident. 

A female pedestrian in south China's Guangdong Province was recently sentenced to 10 months in prison by local prosecutors for causing the death of a motorcycle rider. She was captured clashing with the driver when she crossed the street while the traffic light was green and she was staring at her mobile phone. 

The court ruled that the woman surnamed Hu, who crossed the street while using her mobile phone, was responsible for the main cause of the accident according to the country's road safety law and was required to compensate the victim's family 200,000 yuan ($29,251). 

Surveillance video footage showed that the woman in Zhongshan City was so engrossed in her mobile phone that she didn't notice the oncoming motorcycle while she crossed the road which resulted in the tragedy in May last year. The driver, surnamed Zhang, fell off the motorcycle and hit his head on the ground when he tried to avoid clashing with the jaywalker.

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The motorcycle driver was sent to the local hospital for medical treatment but was later confirmed dead due to severe head injuries. (Photo: CGTN) 

The motorcyclist was later sent to a local hospital and confirmed dead due to severe head injuries. The woman also suffered from severe physical injuries and received treatment in hospital. 

According to the local prosecutor, the woman violated the country's road safety law by not complying with the indicator light while crossing the street and thus led to the accident. Although she also suffered from severe injuries, she was still responsible for causing the accident and should be given a criminal sentence, said local prosecutors. 

Non-traffic personnel can also be the subject of crime in traffic accidents, according to the country's Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court on Several Issues Concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Cases on Traffic Accidents. 

Nowadays, mobile phones have become inseparable devices in people's daily lives and some pedestrians and drivers even keep checking their phones frequently while they cross the street or drive a car, which has led to the growth of traffic accidents caused by electronic devices. 

Honolulu, the largest city in Hawaii, the US, issued a ban on using mobile phones while crossing the street starting in October 2017. Pedestrians caught crossing the street while staring at their phones could face a fine of up to $99. The law was put in place to prevent distracted people from blundering into traffic. 

China introduced a regulation banning drivers from making phone calls while at the wheel, with law-breakers subject to a fine of between 50 yuan ($7.81) and 200 yuan as well as having two points deducted from their licenses. 

In Belgium, it isn’t yet considered a traffic violation, although their attitude towards it reflects how authorities in China and other places see it. “It’s not prohibited but it gives rise to dangerous situations as the pedestrian is less attentive to other users. We believe in prevention to make pedestrians aware of the danger,” explains the road safety Institute, VIAS. 

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Brian Lowe, Lance Crayon and Da Hang. Music by: bensound.com. Text from China Plus and CGTN.)


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