Gawking kills

A design that can save lives

Up ahead! An accident - in the middle of the highway. What do you do now? That's right: form an emergency lane. But many road users don't do just that and instead try to catch a glimpse of the accident. This quickly leads to a whole crowd of people on the road. Curiosity is human. But gawkers who observe, photograph or film the scene of an accident endanger the lives of the accident victims and sometimes even their own.  

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Functionality in design

Johanniter rescue workers are also repeatedly hindered in their work by gawkers. Smartphones and social media further exacerbate the problem. "This has to change, because often just a few minutes can make the difference between life and death," says Jörg Lüssem, a member of the Federal Board of Johanniter Unfall-Hilfe. 

Together with Johanniter, we are drawing attention to the explosive issue of "gawking at the scene of an accident." To do this, we are using an innovative design idea: a pattern based on QR technology, printed on the emergency vehicles and equipment of the rescue forces, discourages gawkers from capturing what is happening with their smartphones. This is because the QR code contained in the pattern triggers the automatic warning "Gawking kills!" on the cell phone of the person filming. Gawkers are thus made directly aware of their actions and their possible consequences. They practically catch themselves in the act. 

From idea to implementation

Johanniter is now testing our idea in everyday work. Several ambulances and an intensive care transport vehicles are already equipped with the innovative design. The one-year test phase is being accompanied by a scientific study conducted by Akkon University. 

By the way: Gawking is not a trivial offense. Since Jan. 1, 2021, Section 201a of the German Criminal Code stipulates that photographing or filming an accident can result in a prison sentence of up to two years.