As texting and walking have always posed various threats, a German city has decided to install special traffic lights on the sidewalk, so smartphone zombies will be able to see them more easily. Accidents and even death have been occurring more often, as numerous people have chosen to stare into their phones even as they walk on the street.
Accidents have various levels of gravity. For instance, back in 2011, a woman walked into a fountain in the middle of a shopping mall in Texas because she was not looking in the direction that she was walking. Instead, her eyes were glued to the smartphone.
While this represents a mild case, others have been much worse. Only last year a man in California unknowingly encountered a wild bear while he was texting. Fortunately, his survival instincts woke him up from his smartphone, and he was able to escape in the nick of time. Later during the same year, the term “smombies” was created to define people who become so dependent on their mobile devices they start resembling zombies.
The danger intensified when the user not only obstructs his view with the device but also his hearing. For instance, one year after the bear event, a German teen attempted to cross railway tracks while texting and listening to music. This proved deadly, as a coming train struck and killed her instantly, as reported by Süddeutsche Zeitung.
In this perspective, a study was conducted across the great cities of Europe. The results showed that twenty percent of pedestrians heavily use their mobile phones while walking around town. This has determined the city of Augsburg to fund the installation of special traffic lights right on the ground so that they would be closer to the view of the “smombies”. The measure was taken after the death of a fifteen-year-old boy.
City officials believe the new traffic lights create a new attention level, and that they will prevent any other tragic accidents. Other countries have taken similar measures by creating special texting lanes, like Antwerp in Belgium, Stockholm in Sweden and Chongqing in China. Other cities in the United States have started to fine pedestrians who text and walk. The repercussions vary from $50 to $100 fine or as much as fifteen days in jail. Sometimes, these two are combined.
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