In the hustle and bustle of daily life, people tend to forget the little things. Some of those little things are actually big things, however. Focusing on where you’re going and arriving safely seems like a given, but it’s not. When everyone is busy with their thoughts and technology, it’s all too easy to overlook an oncoming car or a pedestrian who is about to step out into the street.
Improving visibility and compliance for drivers to increase pedestrian safety requires more than a simple painted crosswalk. Lighting the crossing to ensure drivers take notice can be a much simpler process than it may seem. All that’s required is solar power pedestrian crossing technology and the sun!
Solar energy is created when light is converted into energy. A solar signal does this using four main components.
Solar power is created when the sun shines on solar panels, which are composed of many solar cells. Photons from the sunlight knock electrons free from atoms in the solar cells creating energy.
The regulator is necessary because the energy generated by the panels is inconsistent. The energy needs to be adjusted to a constant level for storage in the battery and to run the signal. The charge controller manages the flow of energy to the battery, preventing the battery from being overcharged or over-discharged. The battery stores energy to power the signal when it is dark or when weather conditions prevent the solar panel from absorbing the sun’s rays.
In compliance with the Federal Highway Administration’s standards as described in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, solar powered pedestrian crossing signs are designed to maintain a constant daytime brightness regardless of weather conditions. They may be dimmed at night so they do not cause night-blindness in drivers. They are, therefore, as reliable and constant as a traditional signal in terms of light output.
Each ELTEC solar powered pedestrian crossing signal is created to best serve its location. Geography, usage, and average weather conditions are considered. Location specific designs enable ELTEC to tailor each signal to that environment, ensuring it is a good fit and meets the needs of the area.
Programmable transceivers work wirelessly, allowing different signals to communicate with each other. Wireless technology means no digging or stringing of conduit or wiring. This eliminates work and additional materials. Since the system is solar, there’s no need to pay for the work of trenching and burying wires.
Installation requires at least two poles for mounting the signal or beacon(s). These use high-intensity LED lights, which are cost-efficient, use little energy, and more visible than traditional lights. LEDs also have the added benefit of seldom needing to be replaced. LED displays are made up of multiple LEDs, a single failure will not result in a complete failure of the signal. This is a benefit over traditional lighting and a safety feature that helps maintain signal visibility.
A cabinet housing contains the charge controller and battery. The solar panel is mounted to each pole on a rack that can be angled to maximize sun exposure. Installation is straightforward and requires minimal time and virtually no inconvenience to drivers and pedestrians.
Pedestrian safety at crosswalks is an issue that must be addressed. The Governors Highway Safety Association estimated that 6,590 pedestrians were killed in 2019, which is an increase of 5% from 2018 and the highest number of pedestrian fatalities since 1988.1
The same report also stated that “increases in pedestrian fatalities are occurring largely at night. From 2009-2018, the number of nighttime pedestrian fatalities increased by 67%, compared to a 16% increase in daytime pedestrian fatalities.”
Any increase in these numbers is a concern. Crossing the road should not be a hazard, particularly when one does so in a marked crosswalk. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see pedestrians under many lighting and weather conditions. With ELTEC’s solar powered pedestrian crossings, however, crosswalks that were once designated only by painted lines are illuminated by solar powered lights and beacons.
The flexibility allowed by solar energy creates vast options for solar powered pedestrian crossing usage. Any location that could benefit from a crossing with increased visibility can have a solar powered pedestrian crossing system installed.
Conventional streets and roads are great candidates, as are jogging paths and hiking and biking trails. Since the power comes from the sun and ELTEC designs the system for the application, the possible outdoor installations are almost limitless.
Ease of installation means a crosswalk may be retrofitted with the new technology without the hassle. Better still, in areas in which it is difficult to get traditional electricity wired, solar powered pedestrian crossings solve the problem of dimly lit or obscured crosswalks that put pedestrians in danger.
From city streets to rural backroads, solar powered pedestrian crossings protect drivers and pedestrians from avoidable accidents.
Solar powered pedestrian crossing systems can take several forms. ELTEC offers three options: the standard single or dual round amber signal, the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB), and the HAWK (hybrid) high intensity activated crosswalk. All of these can utilize solar energy to power LED lights with no electrical contractors needed for installation and no electric bills ever.
Solar powered pedestrian crossing systems require little to no maintenance. The solar panels are self-cleaning, the battery is maintenance-free, and the LEDs can last for years. Drivers are more aware of crosswalks when they’re lit, and pedestrians are safer. Solar powered pedestrian crossings are a winning solution for everyone.
Everyone on the road shares the road. That means no one has more of a right to safety than anyone else. Some users are more vulnerable, and it’s imperative to ensure they are protected. With the help of the sun, ELTEC’s solar powered pedestrian crossings can light the way to a safer walk or ride home, helping make sure families arrive home safely no matter what method of travel they use.
1Colin Beresford, “Pedestrian Deaths in 2019 Were Highest in 30 Years, Report Says,” Car and Driver (Car and Driver, November 13, 2020), https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a31136893/pedestrian-deaths-increase-2019/.