11% of Incidents on Escalators in S’pore Are Due to People Being Glued to Their Phones


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Phone-Addicted Commuters Beware: Shocking Stats Reveal Escalator Incidents Soar Due to Distractions

In the transformative decade of the 2010s, mobile phones swiftly evolved from mere communication tools to daily essentials as vital as our wallets (which are, funnily enough, also gradually being phased out in favour of e-payments).

In our daily lives, it’s not uncommon to witness people engrossed in their phones, sometimes resulting in comical mishaps like bumping into someone or tripping on an obstacle they could not see.

(Maybe sometimes that person is you, but it’s okay, we’ve all been there.)

While we may chuckle at these incidents, the ugly truth is that these situations can take a dark turn when we least expect it.

And especially when you’re fixated on your screens while riding on the giant metal remorseless death traps known as escalators.

“How Can Escalators be Dangerous? We Use them Every Day!”

It may seem so, but the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA) revealed in a media release on Monday, 27 November 2023, that they have received a total of 632 escalator incident reports spanning over January to October this year.

According to their website, an escalator incident is defined as a report submitted by either the escalator owner or a service contractor, detailing accidents resulting in injury or death, or equipment malfunctions caused by the escalator’s safety mechanisms failing.

Sounds like a plot point lifted straight out of a Five Nights at Freddy’s game, but there is more to this sad and harsh reality.?

A staggering 97% of these incidents stem from user behavior and 11% are specifically linked to users being distracted by mobile phones.

If my A* in PSLE Mathematics serves me right, that’s around 70 lives endangered this year due to insufficient attention to surroundings.

Moreover, less than 3% (16 cases) were due to mechanical faults, such as the handrail stopping while the escalator was still in operation.


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As implied, escalators pose minimal risk to us when used safely and responsibly.

Other Causes of Escalators Incidents and Safety Measures Put in Place

Other factors contributing to the high number of escalator incidents include:

  • Users carrying bulky items such as prams, strollers and trolleys – 17%
  • Users moving about or not holding onto the handrails – 16%
  • Entrapment of shoes and body parts – 9%

To curb these behaviours, the BCA have implemented several measures that you may have already seen around our island.

You can click here to read more about the innovative magnetic pillars that discourage users from transporting large items on escalators, and here to learn about why brushes exist on the sides of escalators.

There are also signs, posters and PSA videos put out by the BCA and other relevant authorities imploring commuters to exercise responsibility on the escalators.

These go to show that at the end of the day, it is our own actions – even something as simple as pocketing that before embarking on the escalator – that determine whether our commutes stay on track or veer towards a hospital detour.

Let’s face it, the terms “Bent Head Generation” or “Look Down Generation” used by our elders to describe us may not sound too pretty on our ears, but we have to admit that there is some truth to it.?

Perhaps, with more social awareness, we can prevent mobile phones from turning into a safety hazard for humankind?(from right under our very noses? Badum Tss).

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