Smartphone Zombies?

A Dutch town has implemented a clever design to keep mobile phone addicts safe while texting and walking.

These “light lines” change color in accordance to the traffic phase, giving heads down walkers the ability to implore the proper failure response. Failure response is something I learned in grad school while studying the deficiencies of the circular green ball to indicate “yield”. Popular on the west coast and recommended now in the MUTCD (Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices), the flashing yellow arrow (FYA) has one fundamental difference between the green ball.

Like these light lines, a FYA phase will prompt a driver to stop rather than to go, if they are confused, distracted, drowsy, inexperienced, old and cannot see, etc.

These light lines will automatically receive criticism as supporting bad behavior and some may say we should just allow for Darwinism to occur. Myself and many human factors engineers disagree with this. You cannot stop technology and you certainly cannot stop human behavior. Mankind has the yearning feeling to be connected, so we just cannot wait to check our messages, even if they are not important. Designs like the Dutch light lines will add safety and save lives, and there’s no two ways about that.

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