LED lighting applications in road safety

The applications of LED lighting are many and go beyond the fact of providing light. Some of them we have already discussed previously. We have given you ideas for decorating with LED strips and tips on how to install them, we have talked about accent lighting and we have advised you on the lighting of different spaces such as kitchens or bathrooms, to name a few examples.

In work areas, the improvement in the quality of light provided by LED lighting improves visual comfort and increases safety at work. It is now becoming a passive element of safety even on public roads.

We live in hectic times, in which we are all in a hurry, moving from here to there, without paying much attention to what is happening around us. Since the advent of the cell phone, this situation has worsened exponentially. It is not uncommon to see people of all ages wandering around with their heads down while chatting, reading the news or updating their status on social networks.

Evolution - from fire to LED lighting

Beyond the neck problems that these smartphone zombies may end up having, this behavior implies serious problems for road safety. In fact, according to a 2012 study by the University of Washington, one in three pedestrians walk distracted by their cell phones and are less likely to look both ways before crossing the street or heed traffic signals.

LED lights to improve road safety

For this reason, a new traffic signal system is being pilot tested in the Dutch town of Bodergraven. The system consists of an LED strip located near the curb, which changes color synchronously with the traffic lights at the intersection itself. These lights are in the line of sight of these distracted pedestrians and can alert them more effectively than conventional signals.

LED strip that changes colour like a traffic light
LED strip that changes color like traffic lights

The system is actually quite simple and demonstrates the diversity of LED lighting applications. To achieve a similar effect, all that is needed is an RGB strip or neon and a controller that is synchronized with pedestrian traffic lights.

These types of applications are made possible by the differentiating characteristics of LED technology. The LED light source can be designed in an infinite number of ways to fit any space. LEDs are unaffected by humidity, small temperature changes and on/off cycles. In addition, their service life is extremely long.

Other similar measures

Such applications of LED lighting to improve road safety have already been used in other cities. In Ausburg (Germany), a similar type of light was installed after a young woman was run over when crossing the street while looking at her cell phone and wearing headphones. In Sydney, the celebrated Australian city, such a measure, installing traffic signs on the ground, was also adopted in 2016.

Those most critical of such measures claim that, far from solving the problem, they are simply rewarding bad habits. But the reality is that the trend of distracted walking does not seem likely to abate and it is interesting to develop tools to alleviate the negative effects. In fact, other places in the world such as Chongqing (China) have their own lanes for cell phone users.

Lanes for mobile phone users
Cell phone user lanes in China

On the other hand, some cities around the world have installed blue lights to reduce crime with varying degrees of success. We can find these lights in places as disparate as Japan, Scotland or the United States.

In short, technology changes the way we deal with our environment, sometimes for the worse, but it also provides us with tools to improve our daily lives, such as these peculiar applications of LED lighting.