South Korea Trials Lazers on Road Crossings to Distract People From Their Phones

The country has one of the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities in the developed world.

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Mar 20 2019, 3:38pm

Left: Screenshot from Youtube. Right: Wikimedia

In South Korea, people walking into traffic on their phones has become so common that they've coined a new word. Smombies is a conjunction of the words "smartphone" and "zombies" and the government is doing all they can to bring numbers of smombie fatalities down.

In the Ilsan district of Goyang, the government is trailing blinking lights and laser beams on road crossings to remind pedestrians to look up from their phones, while also encouraging drivers to slow down. The crossings themselves are also being embedded with red, blue, and yellow LED lights and if that wasn't enough, pedestrians are also being reminded that they're stepping into traffic via an app on their phones.

These crossings don't come cheap, however, with Reuters reporting that each one costs US$13,250. But in a nation with one of the highest rates of road fatalities among developed countries, and in a city with the world’s highest rate of smartphone penetration, the cost seems justifiable.

In 2017 the Traffic Accident Analysis system reported that 1,600 pedestrians were killed in auto-related accidents alone.

"Increasing number of smombie accidents have occurred in pedestrian crossings, so these zombie lights are essential to prevent these pedestrian accidents," explained Kim Jong-hoon, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT) to Reuters.

The Institute claims that the system will soon be implemented nationwide.

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This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.