Direct Line and Saatchi & Saatchi revolutionise pedestrian crossings

Direct Line and Saatchi & Saatchi London have revealed an innovative prototype pedestrian crossing aimed at reducing traffic and pedestrian accidents. With 7,000 annual road traffic accidents taking place at crossings due to a lack of visibility for cars, cyclists and pedestrians, this new campaign is a world-first and aims to tackle this pertinent problem.

The campaign forms the second initiative in a series of brand activations that demonstrate Direct Line’s high performance approach to fixing problems in the real world. As technology continues to progress, the brand is positioning itself at the very forefront of the insurance category with practical, problem solving solutions for the future.

Fleetlights was the first brand initiative executed last year, and was created to solve the safety issues that darkness causes across communities in the UK. It was awarded a Bronze and Gold Cannes Lions this year and also a Bronze at Creative Circle awards. Due to its high level of success, Fleetlights has garnered the interest of Caister Volunteer Lifeboat service to see how the pioneering drone technology can be employed to save lives at sea.

The prototype ‘Smart Crossing’ is a responsive road crossing that differentiates between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists automatically. It uses computer vision technology to “see” exactly  what’s  happening  around  it  and  an  LED  road  surface  to  adapt  its  markings  and signals dynamically in real-time to keep its users safe, without manual input.

Addressing the current limitations of pedestrian crossings, the ‘Smart Crossing’, which spans 6m x 22m, will:

  • Widen to accommodate large groups, which could help in reducing the number of crowd related incidents outside schools or sporting events
  • Adapt to pedestrians who take unnecessary risks or those in emergency situations, such as a child chasing a ball into the path of oncoming traffic
  • Address the issue of high sided vehicles (such as HGVs and buses) which can obscure the view of the pedestrian who is crossing by lighting a 1m radius around pedestrians walking across the road. This will ensure they are not ‘hidden’ by these types of vehicles which can often cause a blind spot for other road users
  • Use colours to grab the attention of pedestrians engrossed in their mobile phones, urging them to ‘look up’ and focus on crossing the road safely and to make life safer for the ‘head down’ generation

The technology was developed using research from the Transport Research Laboratory and in partnership with urban designers, Umbrellium. It has also received positive feedback from road safety charity, Brake and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety.

Sam Wise, Head of Planning at Saatchi & Saatchi London said, “It is easy for people to put insurance into a box marked ‘problems with my car or house’ and only think about it once a year. Great insurance is actually something much bigger than that; it is the partner that allows us to meet the uncertainties of the future with confidence. With these activations, we are  reminding  people  what  great  insurance  should  feel  like  and  challenging  them  to reimagine what role we could play in a changing world.”

Usman Haque, founding partner of Umbrellium added, “This is an ongoing problem and we’ve developed a genuine solution. ‘The Smart Crossing’ dynamically responds in real-time using technology which has been designed with colours that road users know and understand, and practical designs that help those on the crossing feel comfortable, confident and safe.

This is about bringing pedestrian crossings up-to-speed with the rest of a modern-day city. Pedestrian crossings as we know them were made for a different age, when the human relationship with the city was completely different.

Our prototype is waterproof, can hold the weight of vehicles and can recognise the difference between pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists – it’s ready to change the future of how we cross the road.”

Will John, Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi London said, “Roads are the beating heart of any city. They are full of life. But they don’t adapt or respond to that life. Sure, we put signs and marking down to guide people at crossings. But a smarter solution would be a smarter road; a road that can look out for you and keep you safe. With Direct Line, we’re looking to prevent accidents from ever happening, by reimagining road safety and what a crossing can do.”

By harnessing their ‘high performance’ approach, Direct Line looked at all types of pedestrian crossings with the aim of re-inventing them with a smarter (and safer) solution. We take crossings for granted, placing huge amounts of confidence in them because of their very purpose of keeping us safe. However, the limitations of current crossings have enabled accidents to occur – many of which could be preventable.

Rachael Lynch, Innovation Marketing Manager at Direct Line said, “Direct Line develops high performance solutions to everyday challenges and ‘The Smart Crossing’ is the latest example of this. We’ve developed a world-first piece of technology to address the problems that arise when pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles meet at pedestrian crossings.”

“Cities across the world are future proofing and we believe our model could be an essential part of everyday life. In a world where we are immersed in mobile technology, ‘The Smart Crossing’ can pre-empt danger and urge pedestrians to look up before crossing a road.”

The digitally-led campaign launches today with a “20 teaser and will be followed by a longer form storytelling spot and a “40 campaign film exclusively for cinemas later in October.








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