On Sunday, it has been announced by RTA (Roads and Transport Authority) that a sensor-enabled pedestrian traffic light is on trial in Dubai aiming to minimize run-over accidents and ensure safe crossing.

The CEO of RTA’s Traffic and Roads Agency, Maitha Mohammad Bin Adai announced, “The RTA has installed and operated the smart traffic light on Al Saada street and the signal ensures safe crossing of pedestrians.”

“The system of the signal is designed to eliminate the time allocated to pedestrians if it senses no pedestrians waiting on the pavement, thus providing more time for vehicles to pass", said Bin Adai.

The sensor-based pedestrian traffic light is equipped with an optical ground system that works in perfect harmony with traffic as explained by Bin Adai as the system mechanic.

“It spots the movement of pedestrians on the pavement (before crossing the street) or on the crossing path (during crossing) and automatically modifies the timing of the signal accordingly. Thus, it allows the safe passage of the largest possible number of pedestrians and accordingly provides an excellent and smart service to all road users. The system has gone through all technical tests and trials to ensure its smooth functionality.” Bin Adai added.

“RTA is currently considering broadening the scope of this trial by installing more signals on similar locations of Dubai’s road network,” she said.

Up-to-date, most of Dubai’s traffic lights are pre-timed, which either allocates a fixed duration to pedestrians as well as vehicular traffic. As it is, Bin Adai said that the RTA is currently considering broadening the scope of this trial by installing more signals on similar locations of Dubai’s road network.

“The system doesn’t only make the roads safer for pedestrians but also allows greater flexibility,” noted Nadeem Shakir, a traffic management and road-planning expert based in Dubai.

“This system will provide greater harmony and synchronization between pedestrian and vehicular movement. It will improve pedestrian safety as well as saving time for all road users. With pre-timed traffic lights, both pedestrians and vehicular traffic must wait for a fixed duration whether there is not movement from the other side,” said Shakir, who is the Technical Director, Transport Planning at Aurecon.

He added, “Sometimes the signal cycle length is so long that pedestrians are tempted to take a drastic step of scurrying across. Another problem with pre-timed system is that the pedestrians have to wait if the signal is red, even if the roads are empty. The sensor-based system fixes these issues and helps streamline the movement.”

It is expected that this new sensor-based system will provide great safety since it has been reported that quarter of road deaths in Dubai were caused by run-over accidents last year.


Petros Stathis