The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) is working on a specialised lane guidance and sensory pedestrian crossing, traffic signal system for the visually impaired.

The pilot project was launched at Regents Park just outside the Johannesburg Society for the Blind offices.

The newly installed traffic signal system provides sound alerts, push buttons and LED lane lights at the intersection, that are able to ensure that visually impaired pedestrians crossing the road are well assisted by the new technology.

The traffic lights are designed with sound and touch push buttons which communicate reliable information to visually impaired pedestrians to enhance their safety whilst crossing the street. The audible push button gives a loud signal alerting the visually impaired when it is green for them to cross, and when it is no longer safe to enter the intersection.

Lane lights, built into the road surface, serve as an additional warning to motorists that the traffic light is red and that they need to stop. These lane lights for the pedestrian crossing are highly visible as brightness is automatically adjusted to light intensity.

“We are very proud of the launch of this pilot project which seeks to enable the safe mobility of visually impaired pedestrians”, explains JRA Managing Director, Mr. Skhumbuzo Macozoma, “The JRA is mandated to provide quality roads that are accessible, safe and liveable for our communities, and through this test project, the visually impaired are able to cross the road safely and independently, thereby benefitting from the City’s road infrastructure”.

Standard traffic lights do not cater for the visually impaired. Xolile Mdoko a student at the Johannesburg Society for the blind comments, “This new innovation has really improved our lives, as I am able to press the button on the traffic lights and hear when it is safe to cross.

Another student from the University of South Africa, Granny Lekoloane states: “The robot is user friendly as I am now able to cross the road on my own.”

The Johannesburg Society for the Blind, Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Vangile Nyamathe concludes: “The Society would like to thank the JRA for installing the traffic lights for the visually impaired people in Roseacre as it has truly been beneficial to their independence and mobility in the area. We would encourage the implementation of similar projects in and around Gauteng to the benefit of the visually impaired.”