The one device that any adult today holds dear to his/her heart is the smartphone. It is not an uncommon sight to find smombies walking around with their noses buried in their smartphones, which in some cases, can be risky, especially when crossing roads. This is why a German city has stepped into the new tech age by installing traffic lights on pavement floors, so smombies don't even have to look up from their phones.
The German-born term smombie is a mix of the words smartphone and zombie and was voted "youth word of the year" in 2015, according to The Local.
Germans are believed to be very rule-conscious and stringently follow traffic rules. However, the officials of the city of Augsburg noted that an increasing number people were ignoring the traffic rules inadvertently because of their preoccupation with their phones. In efforts to ensure the safety of smartphone- obsessed pedestrians, the city has now installed new traffic lights which are embedded on the floors of the pavement. The added measure is aimed at ensuring that even those too distracted by their phones will still be able to follow traffic rules, without even lifting their heads up.
Stephanie Lerman, a spokesperson for the city of Augsburg said: "It creates a whole new level of attention," the Washington Post reported. The decision to implement the new traffic lights was taken after a teenager in Munich was killed by a tram, which was reportedly caused by the teenager's absorption with her smartphone. In Augsburg as well, there were two recent incidents of pedestrians being knocked down by electric trams while they were preoccupied with their smartphones. Fortunately, in both cases the smombies escaped with minor injuries.
The new traffic lights have been installed at two tram stops in the city and began operating on 19 April. The lights are programmed to flash red when a tram is approaching or when the regular traffic light turns red. You can watch the traffic lights at work here.