We’ve all been there: staring down at our phone only to be disrupted from our gaze by bus barrelling past a foot in front of us. If only we’d seen that pedestrian signal.
It’s a sad state of affairs, really, but cities are starting to accept that people are no longer looking at the world around them. So they’re throwing a lifeline – literally – to sidewalk zombies by installing traffic lights in the ground.
The city of Augsburg, Germany was the first to outfit pavement with pedestrian lights that will hopefully be enough to prevent people walking into traffic as they’re fixated on their smartphone.
“We realized that the normal traffic light isn’t in the line of sight of many pedestrians these days,” said Tobias Harms, a member of the city’s council.
Very thoughtful, but a lot of people have an issue with excusing such behaviour.
It’s become such a big issue that the word “smombie” – “smartphone” and “zombie” – was voted Youth Word of the Year in Germany last November.
Other cities are starting to follow suit, too. Sydney, Australia has also began testing in-ground traffic light technology in an effort to curb accidents where people blindly walk into traffic.
“Just the tragedy of the number of pedestrians that have died on the road in the last 18 months, we’re looking at every opportunity to make the environment safer for pedestrians,” said Bernard Carlon, executive director of the NSW Centre for Road Safety.
Unfortunately, people aren’t going to start looking up from their screens anytime soon. As much a #smh measure this is, it does yield necessity.