German city installs traffic lights on pavement to alert distracted phone users

Flashing traffic lights installed on the sidewalk in Augsburg, Germany.
Flashing traffic lights installed on the sidewalk in Augsburg, Germany. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE VIDEO

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, 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 euros (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," Mr Fergg 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 also shared that fatal accidents involving distracted pedestrians had also occurred in other German cities.