SAFETY: Dutch town testing out traffic lights for distracted pedestrians

Feb. 17, 2017

The "Light-line" pavement lighting system employs LED light strips embedded into a road crossing  linked to traffic lights to cast a red or green line across the pedestrian's path

Pedestrian distractions, notably from smart phones and other portable devices, continue to contribute to traffic and roadway incidents. There is, however, one small town in the Netherlands that is trying a unique approach to calling attention to the need for keeping one’s eyes on the road.

Launched this week, a pilot project that employs the "Light-line" system aims to pull pedestrian attention away from the screen. The system uses LED light strips embedded into a road crossing which are then linked to traffic lights to cast a red or green line across the pedestrian's path as an indication that it is safe or forbidden to cross.

“People are increasingly distracted on their smart phones when they are out and about among traffic,” said Kees Oskam, local councilor in the small western town of Bodegraven. “Greater attention is being paid to social media, games, apps and music, and so there is not so much attention on traffic. We probably can't overturn this trend, so we might as well try to anticipate [problems].”

The lights are produced by Dutch firm HIG Traffic Systems. If the pilot test proves a success, the aim will be to roll them out in other Dutch towns. It could possibly also be used on the country's many cycle paths.

According to the Dutch Road Safety organization, a smart phone is involved in one in five bike accidents involving young people.

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