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The Mobile Phone; not just a life-threatening device.

It appears that in Sweden, the authorities are incorporating a new road traffic sign warning drivers that they are entering a ‘texting pedestrian’ zone.

For many years, mobile phones have been proved to save lives, given that the increase of mobile phone users in society means that emergencies can be reported quicker in the event of an accident, yet the addiction to mobile phones is something serious to the point that people’s lives could be at stake.

Am I exaggerating?

No, I don’t think so, unless you choose not to walk around the streets looking at your mobile phone as if there was no tomorrow. In Madrid, for instance, the police have already sounded a warning bell in the face of the growth of road accidents arising from this type of situation. What is more, a study from the British Medical Journal puts the blame for more than 20% of current collisions on the carelessness of these ‘Homos technologicus’ or, I should say, ‘technological pedestrians’.

Funnily enough, Jacob Sempler, a Swedish advertising creative executive, was close to swelling these ranks while he was walking around Stockholm city centre with his eyes down to; well, you know what, it was like a catharsis for him.  After checking, he actually came out unscathed.  He called his business partner Emil Tiisman and together they designed a traffic sign in keeping with the reality we all live in: the age of smartphones.

This traffic sign warns drivers that they are entering a high density pedestrian zone where users might be staring at their hand-held devices. What is remarkable is that these creative designers installed the first units of these road signs in the Swedish capital ‘off their own bat’ and at their own expense, garnering so much media attention that the authorities have finally incorporated them into the Swedish road code. Consequently, we see the country full of warning traffic signs taking the shape of a regular triangle with a white background, a thick red border and two black figures of what would be a woman and a man with their heads down gazing at their gadgets, basically with, as we call it nowadays, ‘text necks’.

The first time I saw this new sign in a magazine I could not help but wonder whether the shape of the human body was evolving towards a new phase of shorter and smaller creatures. In other words, coming from Homo erectus and sapiens and having arrived today to Homo technologicus, are we perhaps entering a new stage where our necks will curve again for good due to technology?

Maite Navarro Abellán

Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Molina de Segura