We are all aware of the perils of distracted driving, but inattentive pedestrians are now also posing major hazards, both to themselves and those around them.
In the past, the German city of Augsburg introduced the novel idea of putting ground-level traffic lights next to railway tracks to alert distracted smartphone addicts of oncoming trains. Australia is now expanding upon that approach in one of its largest cities.
The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is planning to bring pavement traffic lights to key crossings in its capital Sydney, home to almost 5 million people. The pilot project, which will be implemented in December, will last six months and cost the state a total of 250,000 Australian dollars ($182,000).
You may think that’s a lot of time and effort just to save some unwitting Instagram junkies from their impending doom, but the NSW government sees it as a crucial safety measure.
Last year, the number of pedestrians killed on NSW roads rose to 61 — a 49 percent increase from 2014. Therefore, local safety officials insist that a multilayer warning system must be put in place for those on foot.
Although the sites for the new traffic lights haven’t been announced, it is expected that they will be dotted around Sydney’s busy central business district, Mashable reports.
There has been no mention of whether a successful trial will lead to the project’s expansion throughout Australia.
Like Sydney and Augsburg, several other cities have introduced similar initiatives aimed at curbing the activity of smartphone zombies, the most popular being cellphone lanes. The latter have been rolled out in metropolises including Washington, D.C.; Chongqing, China; and the Belgian city of Antwerp.
Meanwhile, New Jersey is mulling alternative measures, ignoring alerts in favor of penalties. In March it was revealed that the state is considering a bill that would turn the foolish act into an offense, punishable by fines and a short jail term.