New high-tech pedestrian crossing design to improve safety

By Hannah Figg / Updated: 11 Mar 2019

A new experimental crossing has been designed to help prevent accidents between pedestrians and drivers at pedestrian crossings. It is thought that both pedestrians and drivers are now less aware of one another than ever before thanks to smartphones and in-car infotainment systems.

The crossing has been designed by a team at the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology, and involves a range of lights, electronic signs and an app. The system has been estimated to cost approximately US$ 13 000 per crossing to install, and it is thought that its socioeconomic benefits should far outweigh the expense.

There are three ways in which a driver is alerted to the presence of a pedestrian:

  1. A thermal imaging camera detects a pedestrian approaching the crossing.
  2. When someone is detected, LED warning lights that are embedded in the asphalt either side of the crossing are illuminated (these are visible up to 50 metres away but are not bright enough to adversely disturb the vision of the driver).
  3. Once the vehicle is 30 metres or less from the crossing, a blinking electronic sign illuminates to warn the driver of the pedestrian.  

Similarly, there are three ways in which a pedestrian is warned of an oncoming vehicle:

  1. A warning image is projected onto the ground in front of the pedestrian if the approaching car is travelling faster than 10 km/h (6 mph). This should alert pedestrians looking at smartphones or other hand-held devices, or the elderly who more often look at the ground when walking.
  2. An audible alarm sounds to attract the pedestrian's attention. 
  3. An app on the pedestrian's phone causes it to vibrate and to sound a separate alarm.

The project leader Dr Jong Hoon Kim stated: “We expect outstanding results when the system is installed at a crossing without traffic signals and at crossings on rural roads, where the rate of pedestrian accidents is currently high. We intend to continue to develop the system, so that drivers can be notified of upcoming crossings via their navigation apps, and also so that vehicles automatically slow down when dangerous circumstances are detected."

Field tests involving approximately 1000 vehicles have been carried out. These have been proved to be successful as:

  • 83 % of drivers either stopped or reduced their speed in response to the system’s warnings.
  • On 50 km/h (31 mph) speed limited roads, drivers with the added warning system who approached crossings reduced their speed by almost 20 % more than those without the warning system.

Source: Story first published by New Atlas on 27th February 2019.

Image source: ©ImYanis/ - no permission to re-use image(s) without a separate license from Shutterstock

South Korea
Walking and cycling