Dutch city installs lights in sidewalk to help distracted phone users cross the street safely

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WATCH: A pilot project in the Netherlands is hoping to help distracted cellphone users, who are looking down at their device, by installing a light strip into the pavement – Feb 17, 2017

Do you find yourself looking at your cellphone while crossing the road? Well, one Dutch town is trying to make getting to the other side of the street safer for distracted phone users with a new pilot project.

It’s only been a week since Bodegraven, a town in the Netherlands, installed a light strip, called “+ Light Line,” at one side of a busy intersection that syncs with the traffic lights.

The company behind + Light Line said the thin LED line’s goal is to help prevent any injuries, collisions or even deaths involving distracted phone users.

“We all know that the use of smartphones are increasing and people are more often using them on the streets when they walk,” said Mark Hofman, manager of marketing and communication at HIG Traffic Systems, to Global News. “What we found out was the amount of people injured in traffic has increased in the Netherlands over the year.”

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Hofman added that the increased number of injures to pedestrians was due to people “crossing the roads without checking traffic because they’re on the smartphone.” This, said Hofman, had city council questioning what they could do to make city streets more safe for everyone.

READ MORE: Toronto to accelerate traffic calming measures after ‘alarming’ number of road deaths

That’s when the idea of + Light Line came alone.

The concept is simple: If a pedestrian at the crosswalk is looking at their phone, they would most likely be looking down at the ground where the light is installed. When the light turns green that means the pedestrian can go, or in other words walk. But if the strip is red, the pedestrian should stop to traffic.

British newspaper The Telegraph also reported that the strip flashes “on and off when the lights are about to change.”

“This [light] shouldn’t be necessary but you cannot close your eyes to the actuality of what’s happening,” said Hofman about distracted phone users at crosswalks. “There’s a new evolution and this is the way people live, so you have to anticipate.”

He also pointed out that the light strip is working and is benefiting more than distracted phone users.

“It’s sort of a guidance as well: It’s not only for smartphone users but elderly people who look down when they’re walking, especially when you walk with a walking cane,” said Hofman. “It’s more difficult [for seniors] to look up than down.”

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In Toronto, 45 new measures are being added to city streets in order to deal with pedestrian fatalities. This includes “implementing seniors safety zones, installing more red light cameras and lowering speed limits.”

Another benefit of the strip is for small children who may not be able to see the traffic lights if a tall bus or truck is blocking their view.

Hofman said the + Light Line can be compared to that of speed bumps: if a road has a speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour but drivers keep going beyond that limit, then you install speed bumps in order to make the area more safer and slow the motorist down.

Overall, Hofman said the pilot project has received “overwlehming reaction from all over the world.”

“I would never thought his would have happened,” said Hofman.

With files from David Shum