In an attempt to deter the increasing number of pedestrian deaths, the city government in Rosario has taken the step of installing a sidewalk traffic light. The goal is to prevent the increasing number of accidents linked to people paying more attention to their phones than oncoming traffic.

The traffic light — which works in synchronization with standard traffic light — will shine a line on the sidewalk with LED lighting that corresponds with the light shown on the traffic light in front of them. The system is the same, green for go and red for stop, only this time it’s on the ground so pedestrians distracted by their phones don’t have to go through the “trouble” of looking up before crossing the street.

The technology comes to Rosario from Austrian company Kapsch, which has a presence in Argentina now too, letting our fine republic follow in the steps of countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Australia, which have already implemented a similar scheme. The traffic light, the first of its kind in Argentina, will be situated on the intersection of Corrientes and Cordoba — one of the busiest corners in Rosario. It will serve as part of a trial run, with 12 set to be installed in the city.

Horacio Ghiradi, the representative from the municipal council that pioneered the initiative, explained that it was to try and warn pedestrians who continually look at the ground and are oblivious to the warning lights of the traditional traffic light. Last year, of the 3700 reported traffic accidents in Rosario, over 200 involved pedestrians. “People habitually use their cell phones when crossing the road — it’s a real risk,” warned the councilor.

Secretary of the Environment and Public Space Marina Borgatello also spoke of the necessity of the scheme: “We need to prioritize the safety of the people, and giving them the necessary infrastructure to do so is vital”.

A study carried out by the non-governmental organization “Luchemos por la vida” in November last year found that pedestrians constituted 21 percent of all traffic related deaths in Argentina; in Buenos Aires that figure exceeds 40 percent. Traffic accidents in Argentina are notoriously bad, with a report last week noting that deaths from accidents have increased by 25 percent over the last year.