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Dutch municipality rolls out traffic lights for distracted smartphone users

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Ah, the troubles that we smartphone users have with traffic. It doesn't matter if we text, go through our news feed or hunt Pokemon in our urban environments - every now and then it just so happens that we don't pay attention to where we're going. Putting your smartphone down while crossing a road is the safest and most logical thing to do, but in the future, advanced traffic lights might direct those that get carried away.

Such a new system is currently being tested out in the Dutch municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk. The project is called “+ Light Line” and is developed and carried out by the Dutch company HIG Traffic Systems. Several traffic lights in the municipality are equipped with tiny LED strips that glow on the pavement before some of the busier road crossings. These strips change color from red to green in unison with the main traffic light, effectively alerting distracted phone users of when it is safe to pass.

The + Light Line system in action.

In an interview with Dutch news agency OmroepWest, HIG's Mark Hofman has expressed concerns that the pedestrian-smartphone combination is not as harmless as it may sound:
“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.”

Kaas Oskam, a councillor in the Bodegraven-Reeuwijk township also warned about the hazards of getting distracted with “social media, games and WhatsApp”. In his opinion, such dangerous trends can't be easily reversed, but can be anticipated.

The tests strips are currently only installed at one intersection that is close to several schools, but if the project becomes successful, HIG aspires to implement it on a much wider scale.

source: The Guardian

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