New concept: laser-guided crosswalks

I love new ideas, especially when they involve technology and they make life better by solving a problem. I caught a neat concept while browsing some nerdy websites not long ago that can help save lives when it comes to pedestrian fatalities.

In television news, we are constantly reporting on pedestrian fatalities. Too often, people are in a hurry and they decide to cross the street where they see fit. The end result is rarely pretty, especially if we have to view it on our in-house live feed from the helicopter. I’ll spare you the gory details.

In those cases, I find myself saying “why right there? And especially with dark clothing on at 3 in the morning?”. No one will ever know why these people decided to cross the street prior to getting hit. My best guess is simply to save time or they didn’t want to walk to the nearest crosswalk.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has a statutory responsibility to collect crash data, keep statistics and disseminate reports about motor vehicle accidents across the State of Florida.

Each year the FDHSMV releases its findings including the number of pedestrian injuries per county.  Since 2006, Miami-Dade has been the most dangerous county in Florida for pedestrians.   According to the 5 year pedestrian injury report by county, approximately 1,300 pedestrians are injured in Miami-Dade every year. It’s not impressive.

Take a look at the actual numbers:

  • 2006 – 1,329
  • 2007 – 1,338
  • 2008 – 1,466
  • 2009 – 1,390
  • 2010 – 1,306

Those who use the crosswalks still risk danger – just not nearly as much. Most drivers use caution upon coming to a crosswalk. I’ve learned Miami drivers are much more aggressive. Some are more concerned about catching the yellow light than they are looking for pedestrians trying to get across the busy highway.

Korean designer Hojoon Lim (a 27-year-old Industrial Designer who lives in Italy) is full of ideas and chronicles them on his website. He’s has come up with a pretty neat concept for safety in crosswalks, although it’ll need some work to guarantee to be effective.  The ‘Guardian’ has added a layer of safety at the crosswalk by shooting lasers across the intersection informing drivers and pedestrians when it is their time to cross. Simple laser beams (if you can call them simple), span the distance from corner to corner opening a lane for the pedestrian when it’s okay to cross, and cutting them off when it’s time to stop.

Laser Crosswalks

One reviewer made a good point that the beam would possibly need some sort of substance in the air like smoke or fog in order to be seen clearly – but I’m sure Lim can design a laser that can be seen clearly in the light of day. Maybe there’s one  out there already.

Regardless, his Guardian idea is simple, effective and would cut down on the loss of life at crosswalks. In a day and age where everyone is in a hurry, and multitasking to an unhealthy level (I’m guilty!) – it’s time devices and processes were put in place to slow everyone down –  to not only smell the roses – but avoid getting killed.

It may not stop the impatient pedestrians crossing where they choose and getting hit, but it can only help others avoid the same fate by doing what they should…using a crosswalk.

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Josh Benson

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Josh Benson


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