By Brittney McKenna
How many times have you walked down a staircase only to have someone smack into you because their face was buried in their phone? (Or, perhaps more accurately, how often has that stair-climbing phone zombie been you?)
Staircase texting had apparently become enough of a problem at Utah Valley University that it inspired administration to create a "texting lane" for a particularly busy stairway.
The school implemented the lane as a bit of a joke, a visual satire of the growing tendency to stare into a phone while walking from place to place.
"It started out with a design concept to make it fun for the students," UVU publicity director Melinda Colton told MTV News. "Someone took a photo of it and it took off on Reddit.com, and the rest is history."
She explained that "students aren't really obeying it," but it's helping create a conversation about how "this is a generation that's all about being glued to their cell phones."
The staircase is in UVU's Student Life and Wellness Center, which "is really a combination student union [and] hangout spot, but it’s also a gym," Colton said. "We really wanted to engage students [and] make it more inviting -- it's been a really fun project." She added with a laugh, "The fact a student noticed it and took a picture is probably a good sign."
This isn't the only smart stairway on campus. Another one informs of students of "how many calories you burn with each step," Colton said.
The texting lane may be a joke, but the university realized it could have some actual safety benefits.
“You have 18-24 year olds walking down the hall with smartphones, you’re almost bound to run into someone somewhere; it’s something we’re dealing with in this day and age,” UVU creative director and texting lane creator Matt Bambrough told Fusion. “But [preventing collisions] isn’t the reason we did it -- we did it to engage the students. It’s meant to be there for people to look at and enjoy.”
This isn't the first example of partitioning text zombies off from the rest of the walking world -- late last year, China implemented a sidewalk lane just for texters, complete with a "walk at your own risk" sign. And it makes sense: A 2012 Pew study found that texting and walking makes you 61% more likely to get off track and crash into something.
How about just putting the phone down for a minute? It's only a few steps ... Candy Crush can wait.