How South Korea’s smart crossings are cutting road deaths

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Crossings in South Korea alert drivers when people are approaching, and warn pedestrians when cars are nearby

The crossing has been preparing for you before you set foot on it. Radar and thermal cameras detect your approach and notify a central control system, which triggers rows of LED warning lights on either side of the walkway to alert approaching drivers to your presence. To keep you alert, the system sounds an alarm and projects a warning image on the ground in front of you. It also sounds an alert on your smartphone. As the driver comes within 30 metres, a blinking electronic sign notifies them of your crossing.

This pedestrian crossing is located in three locations across South Korea, designed by the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT). It aims to minimise road traffic accidents in response to rising pedestrian casualties, 52.9 per cent of which occur at crossings. Many of these are caused by people crossing while looking at their phones (South Korea has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rate, and some of the highest road fatality and injury rates among developed countries). “So, I came to think of a smart crossing system that recognises the urgency of pedestrian safety on the crosswalk,” Kim Jong-hoon, a senior researcher at KICT says.

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