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South Korea hopes traffic signs will cut phone distractions

Seoul wants you to keep your eyes on the path ahead.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
June 26, 2016
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Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Cities have tried a number of exotic solutions to get phone-toting pedestrians to focus on where they're going (or at least, out of the way). However, Seoul thinks there's a simpler answer: traffic signs. The South Korean capital is testing signs that warn smartphone owners in five accident-prone areas (such as City Hall or Gangnam Station) about the perils of distracted walking. In theory, those periodic reminders will have you looking up more often and spare you from smacking into a car.

Whether or not the trial expands will depend on the effectiveness of the signs, and there's no certainty that they'll work. The whole problem is that people are buried in their screens -- will they look up for long enough to notice, let alone care? It's hard to imagine Seoul officials giving up on the idea quickly, though. While smartphones are popular in many places, South Korea is particularly obsessed given that both LG and Samsung call the country home. Even a cursory reminder to pay attention may have a tangible effect.

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