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News & Features

TRL believes More is Needed to Help Distracted Pedestrians

Posted in General News on Monday, September 17th, 2018

Shaun Helman, a Chief Transport Scientist working at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), has suggested that certain road signs should be painted on the pavement so that distracted pedestrians who are looking down at their smartphones can see them. He believes that this could help to prevent absent minded people walking out into traffic. This problem has already been addressed in other parts of the world.  In some Dutch towns, for example, LED lighting strips have been placed on the kerbs adjacent to pedestrian crossings to show people when it is safe to cross. Further afield, the city of Xi’an in China has introduced ‘texting lanes’. These are metre wide strips on the pavements which are designed to be safe for those who are walking along while looking at their phones. Taking these examples into consideration, Shaun Helman is keen for the pavements in UK towns and cities to be redesigned to reflect this change in pedestrian behaviour. Shaun Helman commented: “If we are thinking about injury prevention and the dominant ‘safe system’ approach used within road safety, there is actually a strong case for redesigning infrastructure over relying on other methods of changing behaviour. Thus, if we are to provide information to people dependent on where they are looking (on the floor, if they are looking at their phone for example), it is vital that this information is placed at points where important decisions need to be made (for example about whether to cross).”

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