Picture this: you’re walking through the CBD, listening to music, and you receive a message. You pick up your phone to read it and start replying – all the while still walking. Suddenly, something catches the corner of your eye; you glance up, and gasp as you narrowly miss a car at an intersection.
Does this scenario sound familiar? If you’ve become accustomed to tuning out of your surroundings and into your phone, then you’re far from being the only one. According to the TAC and the state government, pedestrian distraction is an increasingly serious problem; every year, more than 30 pedestrians are killed on roads in Victoria, and 600 badly injured. Which is why this week, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced an Australia-first trial of flashing lights on footpaths at intersections.
As the video outlines, the lights change from red to green in time with the pedestrian crossing signals. The aim is to make pedestrians become more aware of their surroundings. “These lights will remind people to stop at the red light, look up and pay attention to the traffic around them,” said Luke Donnellan, minister for roads and road safety.
Right now, they’re operating on the intersection of Little Collins and Swanston streets – and if the 12-month trial is successful, they’ll be rolled out across Melbourne.
When Andrews announced the trial yesterday on Facebook, (Tuesday March 27), a number of people noted that the initiative could make life a lot easier for people who are hearing impaired, as it’s not always possible to see the pedestrian light in thick crowds.
During the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (opening this week), TAC lollipop people and crossing chaperones will patrol the CBD streets to ensure pedestrian safety.