Netherlands Town Takes Radical Step To Keep Smartphone Zombies Safe

Robyn Foyster Robyn Foyster has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
on 6 September 2017

We know how distracting it can get when you’re engrossed in Women Love Tech on your smartphone every day.

That’s why we’re tipping our hat to the forward-thinking folks in the local council of Dutch town Bodegraven. Question is will it work and does it promote bad behaviour?

To alleviate growing concerns about the residents’ safety, pavement lights have been installed at a busy pedestrian crossing to help smartphone users cross the road safely.

The light strips are designed to catch the eye of people looking down at their device, and change colour to match traffic signals.

Netherlands street

The lure of games and social media has come “at the expense of attention to traffic”, explains councillor Kees Oskam.

But Dutch road safety group VVN said the idea “rewards bad behaviour”.

“It’s not a good idea to help mobile phone users look at their phones,” counters Jose de Jong of VVN, the Dutch Traffic Safety Association.

“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.”

The lights have been installed on a trial basis at one crossing, close to three schools in Bodegraven.

The company that developed the technology says it hopes to offer the strips to other towns in the future.

Similar pavement lights are being tested in the German city of Augsburg to help so-called “smartphone zombies” navigate level crossings.

Meanwhile, pedestrian accidents attributed to the use of smartphones continue to rise at an alarming rate throughout Australia, say reports.

In early 2016, The Age quoted Transport Accident Commission chief executive Joe Calafiore saying that 196 pedestrians had been killed on Victoria’s roads over the past five years, with distraction emerging as a major factor.


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