Hong Kong trials ‘zombie traffic lights’ targeted at those who are glued to their smartphones

The city’s Transport Department is running a trial of “zombie traffic lights” at four locations to remind pedestrians not to cross the road while the red light is on. Photo: Hong Kong’s Transport Department
The city’s Transport Department is running a trial of “zombie traffic lights” at four locations to remind pedestrians not to cross the road while the red light is on. Photo: Hong Kong’s Transport Department

It’s not uncommon to see smartphone zombies walking down Hong Kong’s streets, their eyes glued to their screens and only vaguely aware of their surroundings. 

The problem is apparently so severe that the city’s Transport Department is running a trial of “zombie traffic lights” at four locations to remind pedestrians not to cross the road while the red light is on.

The department said in a release on Tuesday that the devices will remain installed at the four road crossings for six months.

The device projects a red light onto the waiting area of footpaths when the traffic light is red.

“The red light reflected from the ground or mobile device can serve to remind pedestrians, especially those looking at their mobile phones, that they should not cross the road when the ‘red man’ symbol is lit,” the department said.

The four locations are Percival Street/Foo Ming Street in Causeway Bay, Tsuen Wan Market Street (near Yan Chai Hospital), Sha Tin Centre Street (near Sha Tin Central Bus Terminus) and Waterloo Road/Hereford Road in Kowloon City.

Upon completion of the trial, the department said it will review the effectiveness of the device and consider whether it will continue to utilize them going forward. 

Studies have shown that “pedestrian distraction”, including the use of smartphones, is a factor in between 12 and 45 percent of pedestrian road deaths

Statistics also show, that across the world, around 270,000 pedestrians die on the roads every year, accounting for a fifth of all global road fatalities.

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