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Crosswalk in East Austin has new tech that alerts drivers of pedestrians

The pilot program is testing the emerging technology at Angelina Street and Rosewood Avenue.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Transportation Department (ATD) is starting a pilot program to improve pedestrian safety in East Austin as a crosswalk goes high-tech. 

The new program is active at the crosswalk near Angelina Street and Rosewood Avenue. 

Drivers of connected vehicles – connected to wireless networks – will be notified when someone is trying to cross the street after they push the signal button when the driver is still about a block away from the crossing. 

"Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents, and these types of connected-vehicle-use cases give you the added layer of safety of providing notifications to the driver, both with a visual and in your display and a sound warning," said Joseph McKenzie, ATD's Smart Mobility Office project manager. 

Austin is currently on track to have its deadliest year on the roads. 

ATD wants to test how connected vehicles interact with the infrastructure during the pilot program, which is expected to last for about a year. The City also wants to get ahead of what could be to come. 

"By us working on these pilot projects now, we can better understand how the systems work and start planning for the future," McKenzie said.

Like many crosswalks across Austin, the crossings will also flash lights when the pedestrian presses the button to cross.

TAPCO, the company that creates the technology, has tested it in about a half-dozen other cities, according to Mike Long, the company's manager of product management. He said Austin is on the cutting edge as it deploys this type of technology and starts learning from it. 

TAPCO and Siemens are funding the project while the ATD is monitoring the results of the pilot.

It's currently unclear how many connected vehicles are on the roads in Austin. Not a lot of car manufacturers have standardized the technology in every new car either. But through the pilot, the City hopes to get at least some preliminary data on how many are already here.  


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