Good Thinking

Dancing traffic light entertains pedestrians and improves safety

Dancing traffic light entertai...
Smart's Dancing Traffic Light aimed to capture the attention of pedestrians and incentivize more to wait for the green man until crossing the road
Smart's Dancing Traffic Light aimed to capture the attention of pedestrians and incentivize more to wait for the green man until crossing the road
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Smart's Dancing Traffic Light aimed to capture the attention of pedestrians and incentivize more to wait for the green man until crossing the road
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Smart's Dancing Traffic Light aimed to capture the attention of pedestrians and incentivize more to wait for the green man until crossing the road
A real-time feed of individuals dancing in a nearby booth was played on the pedestrian light when traffic was moving
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A real-time feed of individuals dancing in a nearby booth was played on the pedestrian light when traffic was moving
Individuals could enter the booth and select some music to be played
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Individuals could enter the booth and select some music to be played
When it was time for the traffic to start moving, the music started and the person in the booth was prompted to begin dancing
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When it was time for the traffic to start moving, the music started and the person in the booth was prompted to begin dancing
The entertainment value of a dancing traffic light figure encouraged pedestrian to stop and wait until the green figure was shown
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The entertainment value of a dancing traffic light figure encouraged pedestrian to stop and wait until the green figure was shown
Smart says that the Dancing Traffic Light caused 81 percent more pedestrians to stop and wait than previously
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Smart says that the Dancing Traffic Light caused 81 percent more pedestrians to stop and wait than previously

Pedestrians will often ignore the "red man" at pedestrian lights in order to cross the road sooner. Unfortunately, this leads to accidents. Car manufacturer Smart created an experiment to see if it could improve safety at traffic lights by incentivizing pedestrians to wait for the green man.

The Dancing Traffic Light aimed to capture the attention of people waiting to cross a road in Lisbon, Portugal, by displaying a red figure dancing to music rather than the standard static figure. The figure is a low-res representation of people dancing in a nearby booth.

When it was time for the traffic to start moving, the music started and the person in the booth was prompted to begin dancing
When it was time for the traffic to start moving, the music started and the person in the booth was prompted to begin dancing

Individuals were able to enter the booth and choose some music. When it was time for the traffic to begin moving, the music begun and the individual was instructed to begin dancing. A video feed of the individual's dancing was relayed in real-time to the pedestrian lights, with the resulting dancing red figure indicating that pedestrians should wait.

The dancing figure was conceived as a means of keeping pedestrians entertained while they waited to cross the road. An element of gamification was introduced to the concept by allowing people to "be" the dancing figure and thereby contribute to the project.

Smart says that the Dancing Traffic Light caused 81 percent more pedestrians to stop and wait than previously
Smart says that the Dancing Traffic Light caused 81 percent more pedestrians to stop and wait than previously

Similar examples of using entertainment or gamification for positive social outcomes were demonstrated as part of Volkswagen's Fun Theory campaign. These included a Piano Staircase that encouraged people to take the stairs instead of the escalator and a Bottle Bank Arcade machine that encouraged people to recycle.

Smart says that the Dancing Traffic Light caused 81 percent more pedestrians to stop and wait for the green light than previously.

The video below shows the experiment.

Source: Smart

The Dancing Traffic Light Manikin by smart

10 comments
Bob Flint
That is creative and will captivate, many people who may have dashed across. The chance to participate is a secondary feature, also great idea. Much more valuable than the one I saw in Thailand in which the slow moving image sped up to run near the end of the time cycle to encourage one to get to the other side as time was running out.
Wombat56
I wonder if the effect will persist after the novelty has worn off?
Chris Bedford
Yeah the novelty will wear off in a couple of days and then the pedestrians go back to being jaywalkers again.
Stuart Wilshaw
"Smart says that the Dancing Traffic Light caused 81 percent more pedestrians to stop and wait than previously;" but eventually the novelty will wear off and the body count will again rise.
Slowburn
Just ad insult to injury when people get hurt crossing against the light. A picture and "This idiot didn't wait for the light." widely circulated.
owlbeyou
Watch how people dodge the traffic as they dance across the street anyway, but that's not gonna happen unless the music is funky and loud enough as per the video. And how many places/cities will set up dance booths like this to make crossing streets a fun and safe experience? People are habituated to want fast food, quick results and instant relief, so don't count on this novelty to last very long.
Gregg Eshelman
How about they do a test of the static figures, static red hand/white figure, and the good old WALK and DON'T WALK for people who aren't illiterate?
Slowburn
@ Gregg Eshelman When they introduced static red hand/white figure they did those tests. The static red hand/white figure almost always had higher compliance.
Ola Abraham
@owlbeyou The city could set up just a few dancing booths and transmit the dances to all the Red lights all over the city. That way they don't have to build out a dancing pod per Pedestrian light.
Dirk Scott
Another revenue raising opportunity being ignored by Cities. Just put up advertising screens which show commercials under WAIT in red until it is time to cross, when the screen just flips to say CROSS NOW in green. Then you can get advertisers to pay for the whole thing and legitimate it by offering a few pedestrian safety tips too. City gets crossings for free, we all get some entertainment.