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Photo of the Day: Taipei MRT warns against 'twalking'

73 injuries reported on Taipei MRT from falls while 'twalking' in first 8 months of this year

(Taipei Metro image)

(Taipei Metro image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) has launched a campaign to discourage passengers from staring at their mobile phones when walking through stations after over 70 injuries were reported in the first eight months of this year due to the use of smartphones.

The term "twalking" refers to the act of texting while walking very slowly and aimlessly. Between January and August of this year, 73 people in Taipei MRT stations have suffered injuries due to falls that occurred while they were twalking, according to Taipei Metro statistics.

These twalking incidents accounted for 44% of the 143 injuries involving falls reported during that period. Another 25 of the injuries were caused by other persons twalking, accounting for 15% of the total.

The Taipei Metro has responded by posting notices on passenger information displays and intercom systems admonishing passengers to not use their phones while walking through the station. Staff have also been dispatched to hold up placards asking passengers to not stare at their phones when boarding the trains.

On Oct. 4, in conjuction with October Traffic Safety Month, the Taipei Metro on its Facebook page released a poster of the cartoon dog Shiba Inu (總柴) with a caption in Chinese and English that reads, "Pay attention while walking to avoid injury." In the left frame of the illustration, Shiba can be seen hurtling down a staircase as his cell phone is smashed and his tooth sent flying.

The second frame of the poster shows Shiba wrapped in bandages from head to toe while lying in pain in an ICU bed. In the Facebook post, Taipei Metro writes, "I've said this 100 times, I don't know whether this has gotten through to you. When walking, look where you're going. Don't swipe your phone while walking."

It then added that when walking, people should not tilt their heads down to stare at their phones when entering and leaving the trains because losing one's footing can be very dangerous. It closed by saying that properly adhering to the rules will ensure a "pleasant and smooth trip."

In addition, the Zhongzheng First Precinct of the Taipei Police Department on Monday (Oct. 11) announced that from January to September of this year, 725 traffic citations have been issued to motorists caught using electronic devices while driving.

According to Article 31-1 of the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例), "if a driver uses handheld mobile phones, computers, or other similar feature devices to make calls, talks, send/receive data, or perform other operations that can inhibit the vehicle’s safe operation," they will face a set fine depending on the category of vehicle. Automobile drivers will be handed a fine of NT$3,000 (US$107), while scooter operators will be handed a fine of NT$1,000.