Dutch town installs special pavement lights for smartphone addicts

Dutch town installs special pavement lights to prevent traffic accidents caused by people looking too closely at their smartphones.

BODEGRAVEN, THE NETHERLANDS (FEBRUARY 17, 2017) (REUTERS) – The municipality of the Dutch town of Bodegraven installed a special lighting system to counter an increase in traffic accidents involving pedestrians using their smartphones.

The lights are directly on the pavement to signal to people looking down on their phones that it is safe to cross.

The LED-lit pavement stripes, one on each side of a road crossing, are synchronised with the traffic lights. They blink green or red, so a smartphone user can keep his eyes on the screen and simultaneously see the change of traffic lights on the pavement below him.

The road crossing where the system has been installed is in the vicinity of three schools.

Bodegraven municipality traffic engineer Dolf Roodenburg said some research had shown that smartphones are a leading cause of traffic accidents among youth.

“We have observed that people increasingly use their smartphones in traffic and a research has shown that one of five bicycle accidents among the 12-18-year-old teenagers is caused by a smartphone,” he told Reuters Television on Friday (February 17).

Reactions among Dutch media were mixed. Some accused town authorities of encouraging the use of smartphones in traffic, but Roodenburg said a total ban on this practice was not realistic.

“Of course we would like to ban smartphones from traffic, but that is utopia, it’s not going to happen, so we decided to anticipate this in order to improve traffic safety, as people are already walking around with smartphones and they won’t use them more just because we installed these pavement lights,” Bodegraven said.

The LED light stripes were developed and installed by the local company HIG traffic systems as a pilot project.