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Netherlands introduces pavement traffic lights for smartphone addicts

Matthew Richards | PhotoPlus Magazine | Getty Images

The Netherlands may have found a way to improve safety without prying pedestrians away from their phones.

The Dutch town of Bodegraven is trialing a new ground level traffic light system in the hope that they will be more effective in attracting the attention of distracted smartphone users and reducing traffic accidents.

A series of LED lights, which alternate between red and green signals, like traditional pedestrian traffic lights, have been embedded into the ground at crossings near to three schools in the town.

The system, called +Lichtlijn (+Lightline), was created by Dutch firm HIG Traffic Systems, and is expected to be rolled out more widely across the Netherlands if the pilot proves successful.

Kees Oskam, councilor of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk, said that the plans could provide a solution to the distractions caused by the social media and mobile gaming.

"As a government, we probably cannot easily reverse this trend (towards smartphone use), but we want to anticipate it," said Oskam in a press release from HIG Traffic Systems.

This is not the first time the Netherlands has piloted experimental traffic measures.

As part of the country's wider measures to meet sustainability targets, it has also introduced glow-in-the-dark road markings, a move to reduce the need for streetlights, and trialed plans for on-the-go 'charging lanes' for electric vehicles.

In 2015, it also installed two noise barriers which double as solar energy generators along one of the country's busy highways.

The new pavement traffic lights have however faced criticism from Dutch road safety organisation VVN, who claim that it "rewards bad behaviour", according to Dutch News.

If nothing else, it's certain to add new complexity to the question 'why did the chicken cross the road?'