Germany installs ground-level traffic lights for distracted cellphone users
CNBC, 26 April 2016
Cellphone users glued to their devices while navigating city streets are about to get a guiding light. These pedestrians, dubbed “smombies” — smartphone zombies — in Germany, are slated to get special traffic lights to help them avoid oncoming traffic in Bavaria, according a Mashable article, citing a local German publication.
Two tram stops in Augsburg have been outfitted with special lights built right into the pavement. The flashing red bulbs signal when a tram is approaching and are meant to get the attention of cellphone users who aren’t always looking up.
“We realized that the normal traffic light isn’t in the line of sight of many pedestrians these days,” Tobias Harms, a member of the city’s council, said, according to Mashable. “So we decided to have an additional set of lights — the more we have, the more people are likely to notice them.”
Augsburg is not the first city to institute special safety measure for people who text and walk. The city of Chongquing in southwest China separated one of its major sidewalks into two lanes, with one specifically designed for cellphone users, in 2014. A warning sign painted in white reads: “Cellphones walk in this lane at your own risk.”
More recently, in New Jersey, a new bill proposes penalizing distracted walkers for crossing streets while focusing on their phones. They would face a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail.
The [US] National Safety Council has recorded more than 11,100 injuries stemming from distracted walking incidents in the past 10 years.