The National Safety Council of America released their annual “Injury and Fatality report” in 2014 showing that use of cell phone during driving causes 26 percent of the traffic accidents in the country. While a great deal of the total cause of the accidents was talking on mobile devices, including those using hands-free operation, just 5 percent of the total root of accidents was texting. A comparison has been made between the distraction caused by a mobile phone and driving while drunk; and it has been revealed that the punishment is equally terrible in some nations. Nevertheless, cases concerning the pedestrians on smartphones have not been given much notice. In case you are wondering how can a pedestrian using a mobile phone result in accident? The answer is rather very easy. Pedestrians are not alert about their surroundings when they are concentrating on their smartphones. You must have come across the YouTube videos of smartphone addicts walking into stationary objects. However, we are talking about “Inattention Blindness” here. These are the occasions when the pedestrian is oblivious of the signs ahead, literally and figuratively.
In case a pedestrian is immersed in their cell phone whilst walking down the sidewalk, there is a probability of them landing up into traffic. Take a look at the video below if you are still doubtful.
A small town in the Netherlands, Bodegraven, is working to solve this problem. It has installed traffic lights fitted in the pavement.
Installed in the pavement, a strip of LED lights imitates the traffic lights at a pedestrian crossing. The lights are visible when looking down in order to be in the line of sight of mobile phone users.
HIG Traffic Systems, a company based in Bodegraven, has created this innovation. As per now, the LED’s are in the experimental phase and are only fitted in a single intersection at the moment.
A spokesperson for the company stated:
“Smartphone use by pedestrians and cyclists is a major problem. Trams in The Hague regularly make an emergency stop because someone looks at their smartphone instead of traffic.”
Nonetheless, the lights have not been embraced by all. According to Jose de Jong from the Dutch Traffic Safety Association:
“It’s not a good idea to help mobile phone users look at their phones. 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.”
Well, the real question is “Is this innovation helping or empowering?” Either way, the concept is attaining momentum. Bodegraven is not the only town to install the lights. Augsburg, a German city, is making use of a parallel approach. Check this out: