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These Pavement Traffic Lights Are Perfect for the Smartphone Era

2 minute read

In an age where we’re all constantly looking down at our phones, there’s a serious danger of pedestrians accidentally stepping into traffic. But a proposal for traffic lights embedded in pavement could curb the danger the distracted walkers pose to themselves.

Design firm Büro North created its Smart Tactile Paving concept as a way to alert texters and Pokémon Go players alike when they are about to walk into the street during a red light. The bumpy panels would lie in front of crosswalks on sidewalks, and consist of LED lights that glow red and green to show walkers whether to stop or go.

When the Pokémon craze hit Melbourne, the number of people wandering across the road looking at their phones was pretty startling,” the Australian firm’s director, Soren Luckins, told Dezeen. “The pedestrian crossing lights that are so prevalent throughout the world are designed for a community looking ahead of them, not down at a phone,”

In an ideal world, everyone would use their cell phones responsibly and pay attention to their surroundings. But modernity is imperfect; studies have shown that around one in three people get distracted by their phones when crossing the street.

“Rather than attempting to modify behavior by legislation or punitive laws that will ultimately prove futile,” Büro North said on its website, “we want to make cities safer by design.”


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Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com