A suburb of Tokyo on Wednesday imposed Japan's first ban on a worldwide habit: pedestrians were stuck to their phone screens while walking, sometimes regardless of their surroundings.
Visitors arriving at the station in Yamato City were greeted with banners announcing the new ban that applies to all foot rides in the neighborhood's public streets, squares, and parks.
"Using smartphones while walking is prohibited. Please use your smartphone after you stop walking," a recorded female voice warned travelers.
There is no penalty for those who can't tear themselves away from their screens on the street, but the 240,000 suburb wants to use the ordinance to highlight the dangers of scrolling while strolling.
The unusual move seemed to find widespread support from young and old, with very few people on Yamato streets noticing a violation of the new rule.
"I often see people using cell phones while walking. They don't pay attention to the things around them. Older people may not be able to avoid them," said 64-year-old Kenzo Mori.
"Using a cell phone is addictive … People seem to feel like they can't stop looking at their cell phone and they have to feel connected with friends all the time," he told AFP.
Teenage girl Arika Ina said that she had often seen people looking at their screens while walking, and believed that the habit was dangerous.
But she said people should walk around without getting used to their phones and questioned the need for law.
"I don't think we need a regulation to ban it. You can stop it by being a little more careful," said the 17-year-old.
Research by Japanese mobile giant NTT Docomo in 2014 found that pedestrians lost 95 percent of their field of vision when they stared at a smartphone.
The company ran a computer simulation of what would happen if 1,500 people crossed the street in front of Tokyo's Shibuya station – the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world – while looking at their smartphones.
The results showed that two thirds would not make it to the other side without incident. 446 person-to-person collisions and 103 people were knocked over.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)