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City installs traffic lights on sidewalks for texting pedestrians

The prevailing stereotype of modern Germans is that they are strict rule followers, which was why the civic leaders of Augsburg were alarmed when they discovered a rise in the number of pedestrians stepping out into the street against the signal. When they examined the reason, they found that the people of Augsburg weren't ignoring the rules, they were just too busy looking at their phones to look up before crossing the street.

In short, people were walking and texting, and getting hurt in the process. The city wanted to keep up with the times, so they installed crosswalk signals in the sidewalks themselves. That way, down-looking texters, known as Petextrians or Smombies, would still have a chance at self-preservation when stepping into traffic. Augsburg spokeswoman Stephanie Lermen told N-TV that the city is just trying to respond to the needs to the era.

"(The signals) creates a whole new level of attention," Lermen told the station. The signals are currently part of a pilot program, and are set up in areas where young people frequent. The problem isn't confined to Europe. Last year, the Governors Highway Safety Association released a startling study that showed the first increase in pedestrian deaths since the 1970s. The report concluded that cell phones may be partly to blame. Less than one percent of pedestrian deaths were attributed to cell phones in 2004, that number had increased to 3.5 percent in 2010. The number of pedestrians injured while on their cell phones has doubled since 2005. In 2013, there was a pedestrian death every two hours in the US.

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