These New Traffic Lights Prove Our Obsession With Smartphones May Be The Death Of Us

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Have you ever found yourself playing on your phone as you walk about like a full on ‘texting zombie’?

Well you may be shocked to learn that if you do, then you’re four times more likely to not spot oncoming traffic.

The problem’s become so endemic in Germany that the city of Augsberg has had to put traffic lights into the road at a pedestrian crossing to keep these shambling tech ghouls safe.

However some people believe the extra lights are a waste of money, despite them potentially saving lives, the Daily Mail reports.

Stephanie Lermen, a spokeswoman for Ausberg, told German site N-TV:”[The embedded lights] create a whole new level of attention.”

She also defended the project saying it’s a good use of money and explained that the lights were introduced following the awful death of a 15-year-old who was hit by a tram while using her phone.

A recent study of European cities, including Berlin, found that one fifth of pedestrians get distracted by their phones, while similar research conducted by the University of Washington suggesting it’s as high as one in three in the U.S.

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Meanwhile the U.S. Department of Transportation has linked an increase in pedestrian deaths to increased phone use.

However, commentators in German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung complained the project is a waste of taxpayer’s cash, The Washington Post reported.

Ausberg is just one of a number of cities around the world trying to combat the problem of phone zombies by making them aware of their surroundings in an effort to keep them safe while protecting others around them.

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Back in 2014, the city of Chongqing trialled a 165ft long pavement which they divided into lanes, similar to a motorway, with one for fast and alert pedestrians and another for slower more ponderous mobile users.

Only last year, Utah Valley University’s Student Life and Wellness Centre (UVU) trialled ‘walking and texting’ lanes on busy flight of stairs.

The staircase was divided into three lanes, for walking, running and texting.

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Reportedly it began as a joke, but it ensured that students get to class on time and prevented accidents caused by people not looking where they are going.

Matt Bambrough, UVU’s creative director, said

When you have 18 to 24-year-olds walking on campus glued to their smartphones, you’re almost bound to run into someone somewhere; it’s the nature of the world we live in.

But that isn’t the reason we did it. We used that fact to engage our students, to catch their attention and to let them know we are aware of who they are and where they’re coming from.

The design was meant for people to laugh at rather than a real attempt to direct traffic flow.

Mr Bambrough added that the staircase lanes had received positive feedback but that most texters ‘aren’t following the posted lanes.’

People not obeying the lanes they’re in, sounds an awful lot like driving…


Tom Percival

Tom Percival

More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism. Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV. He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.