Ramona Ruiz, ABU DHABI – Authorities should consider installing warning lights to make it safer for pedestrians to cross zebra crossings without traffic lights or a stop sign, experts say.
The proposed light – a rapidly flashing rectangular beacon – is manually activated by a pedestrian or cyclist pushing a button. Once pushed, a highly visible pattern similar to lights on police cars alerts drivers that people are entering a pedestrian crossing.
“In North America, government regulations limit the number of applications for rectangular rapid flashing beacons to preserve their impact,” said Tom Scott of Carmanah Technologies, a Canadian company that provides renewable energy-based solutions.
First developed in the United States, these high-intensity warning lights are installed at intersections not controlled by traffic signals or stop signs, such as mid-block crosswalks and crosswalks located at roundabouts.
“Apart from increasing the rate of drivers yielding to pedestrians, the technology is environmentally friendly, cost-effective and quick to install – under an hour,” said Mr Scott, who is part of the traffic division that supports agencies to improve road safety.
Mohideen K, a 37-year-old accountant in Abu Dhabi, used the mid-block crossing in front of the Marina Plaza building on Muroor Road on Thursday. He said pedestrians were often at the mercy of arrogant drivers at crosswalks.
“I think we need pedestrian signals that can help us to cross the road safely,” he said.
The flashing device should be installed on most busy arterial roads of Abu Dhabi, such as those in the central business district, said Dr Sharaf Alkheder, a former associate professor of civil engineering at Al Hosn University in Abu Dhabi.
“For instance, a high percentage of pedestrians use the mid-block crossings on Electra and Hamdan streets,” he said. “The Corniche road is also a suitable place for such a device.”
Flashing beacons have a place, and work well, in societies where there is already good acceptance of pedestrian safety and awareness of vulnerable road users, according to Simon Labbett, project director at Sheida, the road safety standards body in Oman.
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