Hi-tech road crossing alert to light up mobile-using pedestrians

A hi-tech crossing which alerts drivers when a pedestrian using a mobile phone steps in front of traffic has been unveiled.

The surface of the so-called smart crossing features LED lights which illuminate based on the movement of road users detected by cameras.

This means a thick red line lights up across the road when someone walks out unexpectedly.

(Tom Nicholson/Direct Line/PA)
(Tom Nicholson/Direct Line/PA)

Other features include the crossing becoming wider when there are lots of people waiting to use it, and extra warnings to cyclists when pedestrians are hidden by high-sided vehicles.

An average of 20 potentially dangerous incidents occur each day at crossings in the UK, according to data from Road Safety Analysis and the Transport Research Laboratory.

A prototype of the new crossing was showcased near Mitcham, south London, after being developed by tech firm Umbrellium in partnership with insurance company Direct Line.

(Tom Nicholson/Direct Line/PA)
(Tom Nicholson/Direct Line/PA)

Umbrellium founding partner Usman Haque told the Press Association: "The pedestrian crossings that we use every day are about 50 or 60 years old.

"It was designed for a different idea of a city.

"We're trying to update it for the 21st century with a crossing that deals with the fact that people are on mobile phones and they might not be looking up, vehicles might be coming more often, there might be pedestrians suddenly coming out at the end of a film needing to cross.

"This is trying to perform very much like a traditional crossing with the difference that it responds in real time."

Mr Haque claimed the crossing could make "problematic areas much safer".

(Tom Nicholson/Direct Line/PA)
(Tom Nicholson/Direct Line/PA)

No analysis of the cost of such a scheme being installed on public roads has been carried out, but it can be "built and deployed right now", he added.

Direct Line innovation marketing manager Rachael Lynch said: "In a world where we are immersed in mobile technology, the smart crossing can pre-empt danger and urge pedestrians to look up before crossing a road."

Jason Wakeford, head of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said: "This innovative pilot is a great example of how technology can help to improve road safety.

"We look forward to seeing the results of this trial and hope smart crossings will be rolled out in towns and cities across the country."

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