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A Dutch town has come up with a radical solution to the dangers of people crossing the road while staring at their phones, installing “traffic lights” on the ground to let pedestrians know if it is safe to cross.
The trial in Bodegraven in central Holland installs thin LED strips in the pavement that shine green when it is safe to cross, red when there is traffic on the road, and flash on and off when the lights are about to change.
The lights have been installed at an intersection near schools and are currently only present at the side of the road, although they could be extended to give pedestrians a direct path to the opposite crossing.
It is hoped that the “+ Light Line” project, carried out by traffic systems company HIG, will curb the risk of accidents and near misses from phone users wandering into the street.
“The attraction of social media, games, WhatsApp and music is great and comes at the expense of attention to traffic,” Dutch councillor Kees Oskam said. However, Dutch road safety group VVN said it encouraged bad behaviour.
It is not the first place that allowances have been made for zombie-like phone users. The German city of Augsburg installed flashing lights next to crossings last year and the Chinese city of Chongqing created two-lane pavements with sections for regular pedestrians and those glued to their mobiles.
A study in Europe recently found that almost one in five pedestrians use their phones while crossing the street, whether making calls, texting or using apps.