Australia will be the next country to embed traffic lights into sidewalks for smartphone users


Posts: 6,597   +58
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Back in April, it was reported that the German city of Augsburg had come up with an innovative solution to the problem of people wandering into the middle of busy roads while glued to their smartphones: sidewalk traffic lights.

It now seems that other nations think the lights are worth the investment, as Australia is looking to trial them on the streets of Sydney.

Like the German version, they will work in the same way as regular pedestrian lights by indicating when it’s safe to cross a road. Being embedded in the sidewalk means smartphone addicts don’t need to raise their heads from whatever Facebook/Instagram/YouTube content they’re looking at.

The New South Wales state government will begin the A$250,000 (US$181,488) six-month trial in December. The lights will appear in five sites, with more likely to appear in other locations should the experiment prove successful.

"Pedestrians are less protected in a road crash, and are therefore more likely to be seriously injured or killed,” Centre for Road Safety Executive Director Bernard Carlon told Mashable. "This is why we need to create a road system that keeps them safe, and this includes situations when they may not be paying attention."

The initiative is part of the Towards Zero campaign that aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by traffic accidents. 67 people were killed on NSW roads over the last 12 months, an increase from the 44 pedestrian deaths during the same period a year earlier.

"The lights are aimed at pedestrians using mobile phones who are not looking where they are walking," Carlon added. "They will serve as another layer of warning on top of existing lights and signals."

It’s likely that not all residents will think the lights are a good idea. Several people complained that the ones in Augsburg were a waste of money, and looking up from a mobile device once in a while isn’t asking too much. But NSW Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, disagrees. “If these lights could save just one life — I’ll do it,” he said.

With more countries turning to the lights as a way of reducing road deaths, there’s every possibility that they’ll start appearing in more regions, including the US.

Image credit: chainarong06 / Shutterstock

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Posts: 1,199   +743
Australia has always been blunt about preventing road deaths. I saw a great billboard there that said "If you drink and drive, you're a bloody *****"

I still feel this is a bad direction to go though. That's 50 grand per site and still won't work when people jaywalk. I think a much better idea would be to spend the money installing giant spring-loaded spikes in the kerb that impale pedestrians looking down at their phone when they step off the pavement. Or perharps I've been watching The Hunger Games too much.


“If these lights could save just one life — I’ll do it”

Perhaps you should ban cars, Mr. Gay? Then no pedestrians could ever be injured by cars! No more car accidents either! It's a win-win! But wait, people might fall and trip and get a boo-boo. Perhaps you had best also remove the tarmac and install rubber matting all over, too. Just to be safe.

At some point you need to take a cost-benefit analysis and decide that no, A$250k is too high a cost to save morons from themselves.


Posts: 141   +53
Another splendid notion. What a marvellous way to spend lots of money. Whoever thinks this is truly worthwhile should be forced to explain the necessity to a family that is starving to death.


Posts: 5,740   +3,967
I really don't see how the brilliant people who thought of this could actually believe that people who are glued to their phones would see a traffic light in a sidewalk. Are they not aware of reports of people falling into holes while talking/texting on cell phones???


Posts: 2,105   +910
The World we live in, it's getting to be a sad place, and it's all due to smart phones... They cause more driving related accidents than anything else, they cause more pedestrian related accidents than anything else, and for what? Because people are too damn focused on what their friend had for breakfast, or need to look at the latest picture of somebodies damn cat? These people need to be killing themselves, that way others wake the F up and pay attention to the world around them. By making it safer for these arse holes to use their smart phones without being aware of their surroundings it's only going to make things worse, without the fear of potential injury or death it won't actually solve the real underlying problem here. I'd say use the same approach to drivers using their mobile device, fine them, have cops give out tickets to those twats as they approach intersection unaware of their actions, but that hasn't worked for the automotive world, why would it work for pedestrians.