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Installing traffic lights into sidewalks to prevent smartphone-addicted pedestrians from walking onto busy roads seemed like a pretty unusual solution to a modern problem when it was first revealed last year. But the experiment in the German city of Augsburg must have proved successful, as it was later replicated in Sydney, Australia. Now, the lights have been brought to the Dutch municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk.
This latest version of the ‘traffic lights for smartphone zombies’ appears to be more conspicuous than those in other locations. Rather than consisting of several small squares like the system in Germany, these lights come in the form of a long, bright strip that looks a bit like a lightsaber.
Dutch company HIG Traffic Systems built the lights, which is officially called “+ Light Line.” The strips are only at a single intersection near a number of schools during this trial run. They alternate from red to green, and blink along with the main signals when they’re about to change.
HIG’s Mark Hofman told Dutch news site OmroepWest: “Smartphone use by pedestrians and cyclists is a major problem. Trams in The Hague regularly make an emergency stop because someone looks at their smartphone instead of traffic.”
As is the case with the lights in other countries, not all Dutch locals welcome the system. "It's not a good idea to help mobile phone users look at their phones," Dutch Traffic Safety Association employee Jose de Jong reportedly said. "We don't want people to use phones when they're dealing with traffic, even when walking around. People must always look around them, to check if cars are actually stopping at the red signals."
HIG said it hopes to bring its lights to other towns in the future.
While it’s easy to tell people not to stare at their smartphones as they cross roads, not everyone listens to the advice. If the lights really do result in the number of smartphone-related traffic accidents decreasing among pedestrians, expect them to appear in more countries as time goes on.