A town in Holland is trialling special pavement lights designed to help smartphone users cross the road safely.
The town has installed “traffic lights” on the ground to let pedestrians know if it is safe to cross.
Built by Dutch firm HIG Traffic Systems, the new +LightLine light comes with a LED strip that illuminates the pavement with a horizontal strip before the road crossing. Pedestrians will then see the strip beneath their feet, using their smartphone, before stepping out into the road.
The traffic lights are being trialled in the municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk and switch the light on the ground between red and green. When the light is about to change colour, the LED strip will blink repeatedly to alert pedestrians.
The lights have been installed at an intersection near schools and are currently only present at the side of the road, although it is believed that they could be extended to give pedestrians a direct path to the opposite crossing.
It I hoped that the project will curb the risk of accidents and near misses from phone users wandering into the street.
Kees Oskam, Dutch councillor, said: “The attraction of social media, games, WhatsApp and music is great and comes at the expense of attention to traffic. We can’t easily reverse this trend, but we want to anticipate it.”
Mark Hofman of HIG, told a Dutch news 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, Dutch road safety group VVN said it encouraged bad behaviour.
“It’s not a good idea to help mobile phone users look at their phones,” said VVN’s Jose de Jong.
“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.”