Flashing road lights to keep phone users safe

The authorities in Augsburg recently installed the in-ground traffic lights at crossings in two crowded train stations. The flashing lights are to warn pedestrians who are busy looking at their phones against stepping onto the road.
The authorities in Augsburg recently installed the in-ground traffic lights at crossings in two crowded train stations. The flashing lights are to warn pedestrians who are busy looking at their phones against stepping onto the road.PHOTO: AUGSBURGER ALLGEMEINE/ YOUTUBE

AUGSBURG (Germany) • Concerned about pedestrians oblivious to their surroundings while using their phones, a German city has experimented with in-ground traffic lights on the sidewalk.

According to CNN, the authorities in the southern city of Augsburg recently installed the lights at crossings in two crowded train stations, after they saw a similar system in Cologne.

The flashing lights, which warn pedestrians against stepping onto the road, cost about €10,000 (S$15,300) each.

While there have been complaints about the price, a spokesman for the Augsburg municipal service, Mr Jurgen Fergg, told CNN that the cost was justified when measured against the damage that it can prevent.

"We will keep an eye on the results and see if fewer people will walk over the red light," he said.

Last month, a 19-year-old man was seriously injured in Augsburg when he walked into the path of an incoming train.

He had been staring down at his phone and was wearing headphones.

Mr Fergg said that fatal accidents involving distracted pedestrians had also occurred in other cities in the country.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2016, with the headline 'Flashing road lights to keep phone users safe'. Print Edition | Subscribe