There is a growing worry that smartphone users who are glued to their phones are prone to more casualties of accidents in cities. That has made designers in South Korea to develop a system of flickering lights to warn both the drivers and the pedestrians.
A South Korean city which has the highest usage of smartphones has installed these laser beams and flickering lights at crossings to warn people who are on their smartphones while crossing to look up and for the drivers to limit their speed to prevent accidents. The design developed by the KICT, Korean Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology say that it can prevent accidents in a country where the mortality and injury rates due to accidents are the highest among all the developed countries in the world. A senior researcher at KICT Kim Jong-hoon said
Increasing the number of ‘smombie’ accidents have occurred in pedestrian crossings, so these zombie lights are essential to prevent these pedestrian accidents.
As per data from the Traffic Accident Analysis system of South Korea, there were about 1,600 pedestrians or 40% of the fatalities in 2017 were auto accidents and with South Korea also among the highest in smartphone penetration rate with about 94% of the adult population having a smartphone compared to 77% in the US. The warning system which is called the ‘smombie’ warning system is in an experimental state and has been installed in the city of Ilsan which is near Seoul, and soon it will be installed all over the country. The system works with the help of thermal cameras and radar sensors. The flashing lights alert the drivers as well as those crossing the roads. There are also LED lights made of red, yellow and blue called ‘smobies’ on the pavement which will beam a laser light from the poles which send an alert to the smartphone through an app. The residents of the city of Ilsan where this system is installed are welcoming the initiative saying that those who are too involved in their smartphones and do not remember to look up at oncoming traffic can do so now. Many believe that the flickering lights of the LED enable them to look up from their screens and around.
During testing which involved about 1k vehicles, it was seen that it was effective about 80% of the time. South Korea hopes to install more such systems at every crossing, and each comes at a price of 15 million won.