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Would this Swedish sign make you more careful?

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One of the signs on Götgatan in Stockholm. Photo: Jacob Sempler
12:24 CET+01:00
Are the tech-savvy Swedes too addicted to their smartphones? Two Swedish creatives seem to think so. The pair have caused a viral stir with an ingenious unofficial road warning sign.

The bizarre, but oddly appropriate, signs are being talked about across Sweden this week after they were put up at a number of spots around the Swedish capital over the weekend.

They show two people – a man and a woman – walking with their noses stuck to their smartphones. Not that different from many other pedestrians in Sweden, where around 70 percent of the population are active on Facebook and three quarters of Instagrammers use the photo-sharing site daily.

"I am dependent on social media myself. And one day on my way to work I was almost run over because I was staring at my phone like a sick person. It hit me then that I'm not the only one with this behaviour and that it ought to be addressed somehow," Jacob Sempler, who created the signs with his colleague Emil Tiisman, told The Local on Tuesday.

The pair, who work in creative advertising, quickly gained the approval of many a tech-obsessed Stockholmer – perhaps reading about the news on their smartphones.

"Modern times," commented one Twitter user. "Warning, 'mobilists' about," wrote another.

Even MTR, the group which runs the capital's underground system, got involved, tweeting: "This would be needed on the subway as well. Help out and remind each other to watch out. You can check your mobile once you have boarded the train."

"I think many people can relate to this, which a lot of the times is like an illness. You can see it all over the world. If you're out walking in any city at all these days, you see people completely glued to their phones. It's rather tragicomical, really, that social media in many ways have made us less social," said Sempler.

But the campaign may be short-lived. Stockholm council's traffic department told the Dagens Media news site that although they sympathized with the message, the unofficial signs would be taken down.

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"We have to follow the rules," said press spokesperson Erik Johansson. "I don't know exactly how long it will take, but sooner or later they are going down."

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