The Dancing Traffic Light: Entertaining and Saving Lives

Distractions are normally the last thing we want for pedestrians on busy roads, but for the capital city of Portugal, entertainment may save lives. Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal with both a thriving public and tourist season year-round. As such pedestrians and drivers alike must share the road, even when they are more interested in getting to their destinations and taking in the sights. A new sidewalk traffic light installed in one of their busy squares shows a solution to keeping crosswalks clear when vehicles have the right of way.

The Waiting ProblemDancing Traffic Light, TJ Woods Insurance Agency Inc., Worcester, MA

Many accidents occur due to the impatience of one or more parties. People speed to get to places faster; they talk on their phones instead of waiting; and they make sudden starts, stops, and turns because they are too hasty to move onto their next task: they are all driving somewhere. Pedestrians too have this problem—especially when crossing the street—and many preventable accidents have occurred due to pedestrians moving out into the street even when the ignored crosswalk traffic lights are urging them not to.

A “Smart” Solution

The dancing traffic light was created by the engineers at Smart, an automobile manufacturer known for their city cars—small economic cars with foreshortened bodies and rear engines. Part of an ad campaign, the dancing crosswalk used a nearby motion capture room allowing the public to go in and dance. Their dancing was recorded for the traffic light, even streamed live to the new crosswalk. You can see the full video here.

The New Light

Made of two multi-LED panels that replaced the normal lights in the crosswalk, the bottom light works as a conventional “Walk” light—as distractions while crossing the street would be counterproductive. However, in place of the “Don’t Walk” sign of the stationary red figure, the little red person danced on the 1000+ LED screen. For the demonstration there were even music kiosks located at the street corners, piping selectable music for the waiting pedestrians to dance to.

Dancing, Not In the Street

During the day of this demonstration/ad-campaign, Smart monitored the crosswalk results as compared to a normal day. They saw an 81% reduction in crossings while the crosswalk light was in the “Don’t Walk” mode, meaning that over three-quarters of people who would normally walk into the street while it was unsafe to do so instead waited and watched the dancing figure. While it should be noted that for many the novelty of such a setup might wear off after time, simply the difference from a normal traffic light produced an awareness not to walk.

Such a setup is fun, but it also brings attention to traffic accidents. While car collisions are costly and still very dangerous, when pedestrians are hit by cars the results are often fatal. Regardless of impatient pedestrians or errant drivers, innovations such as better stoplight and traffic lights–dancing or otherwise—help keep us safe and save lives. Accidents do still happen and insurance is critical to help both parties get back on their feet. Please contact the TJ Woods Insurance Agency to learn more about our automobile insurance.