Artificial intelligence will be used to improve the safety of Las Vegas crosswalks.

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Brian Ramos

The city of Las Vegas is taking a new approach to crosswalk markings and is testing an artificial intelligence system that can train crosswalk markings on their own in time. The crosswalk at Casino Center Blvd and Fremont Street Experience is part of this crosswalk testing in Las Vegas, Nevada, Tuesday, March 19, 2024.

A pedestrian crossing light flashes white at an intersection in downtown Las Vegas and a crowd of people begins to make their way across the street.

A person is not walking with the crowd and barely makes it to the middle of the crosswalk as the digital sign goes down. Even when the traffic light is green, pedestrians may not have gone the other way, increasing the chances of being hit by a vehicle.

This scene plays out daily in many crosswalks across the city (and nationally) as older adults, those with mobility issues and others are harmed.

The city of Las Vegas is taking a new approach to dealing with this problem.

It is testing an artificial intelligence system that can train itself to time crosswalk signs based on the person crossing the road.

Using pedestrian volume and speed data, projects are designed to detect pedestrians waiting to cross roads and adjust traffic signal timing and unsafe crossing flasher durations in real time. will be done. Traffic signals along crosswalks are timed according to a 3 1/2-feet-per-second formula for pedestrians, said Erin Breen, director of the Road Equity Alliance Project.

“The city has cool technology, and when they don’t have cool technology, they’ve developed their own cool stuff to help pedestrians,” Breen said. “It’s exciting to see that they can roll out a technology that you know is going to make a difference.”

Las Vegas is receiving $1.4 million from a bipartisan infrastructure law to improve pedestrian safety on Fremont Street. The money is from Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev. , whose congressional district includes the city center.

The project is part of the law’s Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) grant program through the Department of Transportation for SMARTer and Safer Way to Cross projects. Titus’ office said in a statement that the move invests funds in an AI-powered pedestrian detection system that it says will “adequately time street crossings.”

It’s technology, Breen said, that many “people have been chasing for a long time.”

Las Vegas will pilot the project around the Fremont Street corridor, which attracts more than 26 million visitors each year and includes the Fremont Street Experience — an area where “a large number of pedestrians on intersecting roads and to nearby hotels, casinos and restaurants,” the city said.

The project will extend from Carson Avenue to the south, Main Street to the west, Ogden Avenue to the north and Las Vegas Boulevard to the east. City officials said at least a dozen intersections will be equipped with cameras that “talk” to nearby traffic signals to “create safer outcomes when pedestrians are crossing the street.”

It is expected to be installed and operational in early 2025, the city said. Fremont Street was chosen as the test site for its “high pedestrian traffic in the area that traverses busy streets.”

“The City of Las Vegas is grateful for these federal grant funds to test this new technology and potentially make our streets safer for everyone,” city Public Works Director Joe Pasky said in a statement to the Sun. can be made.” . “The city is committed to safety through our Vision Zero program.”

Titus sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in October supporting the plan.

Titus noted how Las Vegas is one of two entities in Nevada with approved Vision Zero Safety Action Plans — a strategy to “eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries” as well as travel, according to the city. To develop safe methods of The other entity is Washoe County.

“We are excited to support both agencies as they test new safety technologies in a variety of environments and situations, including tourist attractions, school zones, high-speed arteries, Justice 40 communities, and urban downtown pedestrians. Prioritizing pedestrian movement,” Titus said. The letter was also signed by all of Nevada’s federal delegation.

Breen said 26 pedestrian fatalities have been recorded in Las Vegas this year, including 18 in January alone.

According to Zero Fatalities Nevada, an organization sponsored by the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Nevada has seen 58 pedestrian fatalities as of last week, a nearly 32 percent increase in fatalities since the same time last year.

In comparison, statewide traffic-related deaths totaled 385 in 2023, 416 in 2022 and 349 in 2021.

Breen said one can point to a number of bad behaviors that lead to traffic fatalities, such as impaired or distracted driving, speeding and running red lights. He also acknowledged that pedestrians crossing the street, many times outside the crosswalk, and lack of jaywalking results could also be a problem.

Breen said he is excited about the new project being piloted in Las Vegas and praised the city’s efforts to increase pedestrian safety in the area.

She hopes the data collected will show how effective these technologies can be in creating safer crosswalks and wants to expand them to neighborhoods where she says it could be even more beneficial. — especially in areas with senior housing.

In addition to AI-powered traffic signals, Breen also wants to see brighter street lighting, more access to safer street crossings and lower speed limits on streets like Flamingo Road or Charleston Boulevard.

“There’s no reason to believe (the project) isn’t going to work,” Breen said. “(But) you can’t assume technology alone is enough because it never is. It’s everyone’s job to make sure everyone on the road gets home safely, and that’s what the community is all about.”

[email protected] / 702-948-7854 / @gracedarocha

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