Australia to Test In-ground Traffic Lights for Distracted Walkers


Distracted walker staring at her smartphone’s screen

More and more smartphone users are oblivious of road safety rules, so the Australian government had to find a quick solution.

Distracted pedestrians who roam blindly on the streets staring at their smart gadgets’ screen are a global phenomenon. But while some states decided to fine them, the Australian government is going easy on them.

In order to curb mobile phone-related accidents, Australia is testing a type of traffic lights that are embedded in the ground at key crossings. This way distracted smartphone users colloquially known as “smartphone zombies” can get a minimal clue on when to actually cross the road without putting their lives in danger.

Australian authorities thus hope to cut smartphone-related traffic accidents by a great deal. The project will cost taxpayers $250,000 for just six months and it will be rolled out in December.

The measure was first implemented by Germany in April.

Australia’s Roads Minister Duncan Gay said that the idea seemed good to him because it didn’t require any “hand-holding” strategies to set in place.

”If these lights could save just one life — I’ll do it,”

Gay said.

Initially the new traffic-light system will be tested out in five locations.

According to an Australian study, 67 pedestrians were involved in fatal traffic accidents over the last 12 months. That is a 34.3 percent increase from the same period last year.

In Colorado, earlier this year a teenager got hit by a train while she was walking along a railway track staring at her smartphone. Three years ago, a Taiwanese tourist visiting Australia nearly died after felling off a peer for the same reason.

In recent years, countries have sought strategies to prevent such accidents from happening. Some cities in China, for instance, have destined a lane of the sidewalk to distracted smartphone users.

The U.K is coating its lamp posts and bollards in shock absorbing cushions to minimize impact. Yet, many surveys show that the majority of fatalities happen when “smartphone zombies” try to cross the road.

The number of such accidents surged so much in the last few years that Utah and New Jersey now fine distracted pedestrians who don’t pay attention to traffic when crossing. Other U.S. states believe that the measure could lower fatalities in their cities as well.

But local authorities said that the phenomenon is so wide spread that it would be extremely hard to catch all the offenders.

Image Source: Wikimedia


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