October is pedestrian safety month

Everyone walks a bit during the day. It’s basically a healthy activity, but pedestrian safety is a pressing issue. You have to be very careful if you want to get around in traffic. 

A pedestrian is killed in 17% of road collisions.

The US Department of Transportation is dedicating the entire month of October to pedestrian safety to raise awareness of the related issues. Their goals couldn’t be closer to Commsignia. We want to ensure that all road users communicate with each other and that vulnerable road users are always safe.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has divided the month into four themes on its website last year, and we think we have answers to all of them.

Everyone deserves the highest quality of safety 

Technology cannot discriminate between modes of transport: everyone needs the same quality of safety. Commsignia’s broad V2X portfolio treats all road users equally. It’s also able to include unconnected pedestrians in the vehicle communication network, making vulnerable road users more visible to drivers.

Drive at a safe speed even if the rules have changed

Some trips take you through special events or areas that require more attention. Speed limits near schools and roadworks are often different from the usual. Rules can change from one hour to the next. For example, school children may be allowed to go home earlier. V2X will always inform you about the current speed limit.

It works even if you’ve left the traditional roadside sign behind and can’t remember what it said.  Digital solutions like V2X allow dynamic speed control, so restrictions can be lifted or eased when no one is working in a work zone.  

Connecting vehicles with each other for better road safety

Connected vehicles send standardized V2X messages with important parameters to upgrade well-known applications such as lane change assist, collision warning and cruise control by understanding traffic situations from the perspective of other vehicles. There’s no need to have a line of sight between the vehicles to share messages. V2X works in harsh weather conditions such as fog and heavy snow.

In addition to cars, Commsignia V2X also covers micromobility, so that pedestrians and two-wheeled vehicles can safely co-exist on the roads.

Safer roads are built on better insights

Traffic data provide a rock-solid foundation for well-designed roadways. Commsignia Central Data and Device Manager platform can use connected vehicles and smart sensors to collect information on potential conflict zones. So road managers know exactly where to improve the built environment – before serious accidents happen.

How to protect pedestrians at an intersection

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users and thousands of fatal accidents occur every year. People are particularly vulnerable at intersections, which is the most complex part of the road network – here all means of transport can meet. Pedestrians change their trajectory and speed very easily, so it is worth building protection in the most dangerous intersections that can track their movements very accurately.

In our LinkedIn game a couple of weeks ago, we presented four solutions and asked the question:

How would you warn drivers to avoid a possible accident?

One answer we suggested was the use of infrared sensors. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but it still works. When a pedestrian passes through the infrared gate, warning lights turn on. Unfortunately, the installation requires serious preparation, the road may need to be drilled to accommodate the lights, and the pedestrian may bypass the infrared gate.

It’s easier to place cameras and V2X roadside units (RSUs) on a lamppost. We already use cameras in many places, specifically for traffic control purposes. Commsignia roadside units are good accessories for them, as RSUs can get information from cameras about pedestrian movement. Recognition is reliable, and it’s harder to avoid.

Closely related to this topic is the possibility of using radio anchors that help to measure the position of nearby pedestrians. We use ultra-wideband technology, (UWB) to track people at intersections. Pedestrians only need a UWB tag or UWB-supported device, like certain mobile phones or smartwatches. The UWB gateway responsible for the positioning, like cameras, sends data to an RSU, which then sends V2X alerts to vehicles in the area.

These developments are particularly exciting since these are the same sensors and cameras used in cars. The only difference is we install them along the roads. With this technology we can increase safety for all road users, even those not equipped with their own sensors.

We’ve successfully tested both camera and UWB based recognition at intersections in the Secredas project, a huge collaboration between 70 European industrial partners to improve road safety and cybersecurity related technologies.

How about using location data coming from pedestrians’ mobile phones?

Well, that’s a tough question. Anyone can easily turn off location services manually on a mobile phone. Users might want, for example, to reduce the power consumption of their device. The same is true for the internet data connection. We have to take these into account when designing road safety systems based on mobile phones.

There are also tasks to be solved on the network side. A much denser installation is needed to be able to tell your pedestrian position extremely accurately – it only depends on 10 centimeters whether someone is on a sidewalk that shouldn’t trigger unnecessary warnings in cars or is already on the road where a warning can save lives.

You can learn more about our VRU protection solutions by clicking here.