High-tech system exposes jaywalkers who ignore red light

Updated: 2014-09-29 19:11

By Zhang Yu(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Pedestrians who cross the road when the light is at 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 feed them to the 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.

Pedestrians who are halfway across the road when the light turns red are not photographed.

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 at red for vehicles and pedestrians.

"Pedestrians are given less time than drivers. Many elderly people cannot cross the road before the light turns red."

Some pedestrians, however, told China Daily they thought the system could improve safety.

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.

A herd mentality often sets in, with people who would normally obey the red light on their own tending to ignore it when a sufficient number of others do the same.

The new system is one of many efforts that have been made to improve the situation.

Traffic officers are stationed at intersections across the country at peak times to discourage pedestrians and cyclists from crossing the road when the red light is on.

Pedestrians who break the traffic signal rules in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, can be fined up to 50 yuan ($8) following the introduction of a new regulation earlier this month.

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 Academy of Social Sciences in Shijiazhuang, quoted by anfang.com.

"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 Lian.

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.