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German city deploys traffic lights to stop pedestrians from stepping out into oncoming traffic when they're looking down at their phones

Zombie pedestrians

(NaturalNews) There is no question that hundreds of millions of people the world over are becoming more and more addicted to their portable electronic devices, be they pads, tablets, smart phones or other devices. Now, officials in two German cities have come to the conclusion that residents are so addicted to their devices that they are putting themselves at risk when interacting with traffic. Rather than requiring these citizens to take some responsibility for their own personal safety while crossing streets, city officials decided to placate them instead.

As reported by CNN, the cities were so concerned about people walking down the street glued to their smart phones, that they decided to install traffic lights that face up at pedestrians – on sidewalks.

As reported by CNN, the southern city of Augsburg recently installed the ground lighting system at a pair of crowded train stations, after a manager saw similar technology in Cologne. The latter city was truly pioneering, having installed the lights back in 2011, according to the German transportation research institute, Stuva.

The lights cost about 10,000 euros, or about $11,313 each, and some Germans have complained about the high price tag, according to Jurgen Fergg, an Augsburg municipal service spokesman. However, he argued, the cost is "justified compared to the damage that can be prevented."

"We will keep an eye on the results and see if less people will walk over the red light," Fergg added.

A 19-year-old was severely injured in early March in Augsburg, after failing to look up before crossing, and not noticing the train that was approaching. The man was wearing headphones, police said.

How about some personal responsibility?

In other cities, there have actually been fatalities involving people who, for some reason, failed to look both ways before crossing streets and train tracks, because, according to Fergg, they were too distracted.

CNN noted that the problem is simple to solve – or seems that way: Just look up people! But distracted walking apparently is a "thing" that cities must now deal with, because we're becoming a species of cattle too timid and distracted to keep ourselves safe – even when it is easy to do.

A study by The Ohio State University in 2013, found that the number of people who became injured while walking and using their phones rose by more than double from 2005 to 2010; more than 1,500 people had to be taken to emergency rooms.

"If current trends continue, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of injuries to pedestrians caused by cell phones doubles again between 2010 and 2015," said Jack Nasar, co-author of the study, and professor of city and regional planning at The Ohio State University, according to a press release from the institution.

"The role of cell phones in distracted driving injuries and deaths gets a lot of attention and rightly so, but we need to also consider the danger cell phone use poses to pedestrians," he added.

Nasar, who conducted the study with former Ohio State University graduate student Derek Troyer, said that the research indicated that young people aged 16 to 25 were most at risk for becoming injured as distracted pedestrians. Also, they found, most were hurt while talking rather than texting. The study appeared in the August 2013 issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Back to the 'simple' solution

The Ohio State University release stated further:

A wide variety of injuries were reported. One 14-year-old boy walking down a road while talking on a cell phone fell 6 to 8 feet off a bridge into a rock-strewn ditch, suffering chest and shoulder injuries. A 23-year-old man was struck by a car while walking on the middle line of a road and talking on a cell phone, injuring his hip.

Findings showed that in 2004, an estimated 559 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms for injuries received while using a cell phone. That number dropped to 256 in 2005, but has risen every year since then. Meanwhile, the total number of pedestrians estimated to be treated in emergency rooms dropped from 97,000 in 2004 to 41,000 in 2010.

Nasar said he believes the actual 'distracted while walking due to electronic device' injury figures are much higher.

His solution wasn't to install ground traffic signals however, but for parents to teach their kids how to be safe – like, look both ways before crossing a street or subway tracks.






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