China / Innovation

High-tech system exposes jaywalkers who ignore red light

By Zhang Yu in Shijiazhuang (China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-08 07:41
Pedestrians who cross the road when the light is red now risk the embarrassment of having their pictures displayed publicly on a screen.
A high-tech system with two digital cameras that capture images of pedestrians who ignore the red light and displays them on a screen has been introduced in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province.
The 30-cm-by-20-cm screen is located next to the crossing, and the system has been installed at two major intersections by the city's traffic authority.
Sensors detect pedestrians who step onto the crossing when the light is red, and the system issues a voice warning instructing them not to continue.
The installations, the first of their kind in North China, are intended to discourage what officials describe as the "Chinese style of crossing the road" - large crowds of people surging forward when the red light is on.
A primary school student was among those caught ignoring the red light. He stepped back onto the pavement after hearing the voice warning at a crossing he uses every day.
"I was in a rush to get to school and saw myself smiling shyly on the screen," he said.
The system was introduced a week ago, and the response has been mixed.
"Jaywalkers should be made to reflect," said a 30-year-old resident surnamed Feng. "But the traffic authorities should adjust the time that lights are red for vehicles and pedestrians.
"Pedestrians are given less time than drivers. Many elderly people cannot cross the road before the light turns red."
A joke that has been doing the rounds says pedestrians in China do not wait for the green light before crossing the road, they wait for enough people to gather to cross with them.
The new system is one of many efforts that have been made to improve the situation.
Traffic officers are stationed at intersections at peak times to discourage pedestrians and cyclists from crossing the road when the red light is on.
However, the camera system may be more acceptable to the public as a way to stop jaywalking than fines, said Liang Yong, a researcher at the Shijiazhuang Municipal Academy of Social Sciences, quoted by Yanzhao Evening News.
"The capture and exposure of people's images can make them more likely to obey traffic rules because many are self-conscious and do not like to lose their dignity in public," said Liang.
A manager at the company that makes the system, Shijiazhuang Saimei Intelligent Electronic Corp, said its introduction in Shijiazhuang is an experiment.
"We are waiting to see the reaction of the public, which will help to determine whether the authority uses the system at other sites," he added.

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