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Pedestrian accident survivors turn to Virginia Tech Transportation Institute research to save lives

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Category: research Video duration: Pedestrian accident survivors turn to Virginia Tech Transportation Institute research to save lives
Pedestrian Safety Solutions, LLC is working with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute on their LED lighting system Auto Motion Alert. The lighting system is outfitted on the front of a vehicle to help alert pedestrians and other road users to how fast and what direction the vehicle is traveling. Paul Schaye, founder of Pedestrian Safety Solutions and Alexandria Rossi-Alvarez, a PhD student at VTTI have both been impacted by roadway accidents and hope their research will help prevent further pedestrian fatalities. Schaye has also donated $40,000 to support VTTI's mission to save lives.

October is National Pedestrian Safety Month, which raises awareness and reminds drivers to look out for pedestrians, cyclists, and other roadway users.

Auto motion alert is a system of lighting that is basically an LED strip on the front of the car that indicates whether or not the vehicle is slowing or going. Sort of a way of indicating intent of the driver. And to do a better job communicating with other road users in the environment. Whether that be a cyclist, a pedestrian, or other drivers. It's very simple. It's, it's slowing or going. Amber means slowing, white means going. It shows the velocity of the car by the frequency and fluctuation of the light. When a car is going slow, the light goes slow. Until the car stops the light is solid. A lot of the research we do has been improving, saving lives and reducing crashes with cars. But one interesting element and the kind of trend right now the last few years is that pedestrian safety is not getting better, in fact it's getting worse. We need more researchers kind of focused on this area so that we can try to find solutions to it. I've always been really passionate about driving and transportation. And this is the field that I've always wanted to pursue. My second year in the PhD program, I was crossing an intersection. I was in the middle of the crosswalk when an impaired driver ran the stop sign and impacted me. I'm very lucky to be standing here with minimal injuries and to be alive. And that ignited this huge passion to do something about pedestrian safety. So I took my research that I was doing on autonomous vehicles and external communication and focused it on pedestrian aspect and understanding how these different lighting configurations impact pedestrian decision to cross and not cross the street in order to design a feature that's most effective and efficient for pedestrians. It sort of like just came to me as like a vision. I'm a cyclist, you know, getting hit by a car hurts and it was a question of, you know, this guy didn't indicate what he was doing. I was going and smacked right into me. It has been a long era of process. Initially, it was just going to be a light that goes on and when it was off, it was off. as we've gone through this over 7 years, it's really evolved into a very precise device to indicate if a car is slowing or going. We're able to gain insight into expectations on, you know, where they're looking through these light bars, how they want them to perform. And we're able to apply that knowledge into designing and improve light bar based off of the feedback. So we've looked at a variety of different types of lighting to do this. We've looked at white light, blue lights. We've looked at different, different lighting patterns. And we're getting closer and closer to finding something that really works. Auto Motion Alert is an example of one system we want test on our test tracks with pedestrians, because we think it's the closest one so far. And it's really integral to, you know, how VTTI is to looking at the future of safety. And this is really a footprint, a huge footstep into that program. It would be wonderful to see some type of impact in the improvement of pedestrian safety, even at that just applies to their knowledge set of, you know, this is a new light bar. This is what it means, look out for this. That way they can make better decisions on the roadway when they're out there.