Worries ease about crossing as pedestrian alert trialled

Near misses on a Dunedin pedestrian crossing outside Tahuna Normal Intermediate may become a thing of the past.

A new device that alerts drivers to people on the Victoria Rd crossing was switched on yesterday for an official trial period.

The pole-mounted solar-powered sensor is triggered when people walk on to the crossing, alerting oncoming traffic to their presence with flashing lights.

It was created by Dunedin inventor Larry Burns after he saw a child hit on a pedestrian crossing in Kaikorai Valley last year.

He teamed up with Dunedin company BFW Innovations Ltd to build a working prototype and now that the NZ Transport Agency and the Dunedin City Council have approved an official trial, his face has lit up like his device.

Tahuna Normal Intermediate pupils (from left) Regan Buchan (12), Max Stevenson (12), Alex McKeever (11), Isabella Inglis (12) and Aria Kerekere (13) cross Victoria Rd with help from a new device, created by Dunedin inventor Larry Burns, that alerts driver
Tahuna Normal Intermediate pupils (from left) Regan Buchan (12), Max Stevenson (12), Alex McKeever (11), Isabella Inglis (12) and Aria Kerekere (13) cross Victoria Rd with help from a new device, created by Dunedin inventor Larry Burns, that alerts drivers to pedestrians. Photo: Peter McIntosh

''I'm pleased it's finally being trialled.

''This is a much awaited start.''

If the trial was successful, he believed the device's popularity would explode and it would probably spread very quickly to pedestrian crossings around the city.

BFW Innovations co-owner Vicky Steel said other city councils around New Zealand were already showing interest in the device, and she believed it would not be long before it was highly visible in most cities around the country.

It could be clipped to any sort of pole and run on a solar-powered battery, so there was no external wiring and all components were made in New Zealand.

Tahuna principal Tony Hunter was delighted the device had been switched on outside his school.

He said there were frequent ''near misses'' involving pupils and vehicles on the Victoria Rd crossing.

It was predominantly a problem during winter, when the sun was low, when it was raining, or when it was early and there was no sun at all.

He said it was difficult for drivers to see people on the crossing at those times.

''They are children, and if they're in a hurry, they don't always wait.

''This gives me peace of mind. You can actually see it working, with traffic slowing down in plenty of time.''

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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