Urban Transformation

This Dutch town has traffic lights on the ground because people are staring at their phones

A Dutch town has devised a solution for distracted smartphone users. Image: REUTERS/Phil Noble

Rob Price
Technology Reporter, Business Insider
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A Dutch town has introduced an unusual way of trying to keep smartphone-addicted residents safe: Installing traffic lights in the pavement.

Bodegraven, in the Netherlands, has put strip lights in the floor at a pedestrian crossing — meaning people who stare at their phones all day will see them, preventing them from wandering dangerously into traffic. (We heard about the news via the BBC.)

Apart from their unusual location, they work just like ordinary traffic lights: Green means go, and red means wait.

 Image 2
Image: HIG Traffic Systems

The lights are built by HIG Traffic Systems, a company based in the town, which hopes to sell them more widely to other towns and cities, The Guardian reports. Right now they're just being used at a single intersection in a trial.

A spokesperson for the company told Dutch-language site OmroepWest: "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."

However, the lights have also proved controversial. "It's not a good idea to help mobile phoneusers look at their phones," Dutch Traffic Safety Association employee Jose de Jong reportedly said.

"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."

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