Mind the LED light.

By Jess McHugh
February 16, 2017
sidewalk texting
Credit: Photo by Neo Chee Wei / Contributor

Parents and safety experts alike have long admonished the dangers of talking and texting, driving and texting, and texting instead of paying attention to one's surroundings in general. One Dutch town is finally doing something about it.

A small town in the Netherlands called Bodegraven is installing brightly-colored LED lights on the sidewalks to alert smartphone users that they are nearing a road crossing, BBC reported. The light strips are intended to guide technology users safely across the street and are color-coded: Green signals it's okay to walk, while red warns it's time to wait.

With the popularity of smartphones soaring and the rise of interactive games such as Pokémon Go, it can often seem as if people are permanently glued to their phones. As a result, many users have suffered injuries and even died in accidents while texting or using their smartphones.

Pedestrian deaths increased by 15 percent in the period from 2009 to 2015, according to a government report. In several instances, people have walked off piers while texting or even stepped in front of trains by accident.

Smartphone use can also endanger motorists and cyclists who are forced to take extreme measures to avoid distracted pedestrians.

“Smartphone use by pedestrians and cyclists is a major problem," Mark Hofman, a spokesperson for HIG Traffic Systems, the Dutch firm that invented the technology, told Dutch news site OmroepWest. "Trams in The Hague regularly make an emergency stop because someone looks at their smartphone instead of traffic."