The German city of Augsburg is embedding warning lights in the pavement at traffic intersections to alert smartphone users who don't looking up before crossing the road.
Rows of red LEDs have been embedded in the pavement after a 15-year-old girl was killed when she stepped in front of a tram while looking at her smartphone and listening to music. Two other people have been seriously injured in separate but similar incidents.
The city authorities have installed the lights at two tram stops near the local university and will roll out the scheme if successful. It's particularly concerned that young people are most at risk.
"We have the additional lamps installed on two transitions that are especially frequented by the relevant target group," city spokeswoman Stephanie Lermen told German television station N-TV. "This creates a very different attention indeed."
The phenomenon of people walking around with their nose in a smartphone is found all over the world, but naturally the Germans have a word for it – dubbing such people smombies as a contraction of smartphone and zombie. Hardly surprising from the language that gave us such classics as backpfeifengesicht (a face in need of a slap) or erbsenzähler (literally pea tally, to describe someone who is obsessive).
The new lights, dubbed bompeln, will flash red when the crossing is closed to pedestrian traffic. That should be enough to stop potential new Darwin Award winners from getting mowed down. ®