Can portable zebra crossings save lives?

A slightly inelegant solution to slowing traffic on a road outside a children’s school has been revealed by the Environmental Transport Association (ETA).

It involves a pile of materials for under £50 fashioned into a ‘portable’ zebra crossing, capable of being deployed in minutes on a busy road to allow children to cross.

Built from recycled linoleum, drain pipes and two orange balloons, it is being used to highlight a rejected request for an official Highways Agency crossing being rejected outside a school in Kingston-upon-Thames.

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The reason was the £114,000 cost of the crossing, but spokesperson at the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) and one of the parents behind the pop-up zebra crossing, Yannick Read, said: “The idea may be tongue-in-cheek, but the issue is deadly serious; with over 2,000 children killed or seriously injured each year on our roads, parents should never have to battle to have a genuine crossing installed.”

Safety on the roads of the UK is a major issue. Luckily, an improvement in safety technology means accident rates are falling and the number of people killed on the roads is still falling in the main.

A piece of new technology set to appear on a number of new cars in the next few years could help it even further, however.

Take Ford’s collision avoidance system, which is set to be rolled out on the new Ford B-Max when it goes on sale in September.

The Fiesta-based people carrier features radar sensors capable of scanning an area 7.6 metres in front of the car.

It can then detect objects in front of the car and, if it is travelling at speeds less than 18mph, it will brake automatically in order to avoid a collision.

The technology is also available in the new 2012 Ford Focus and, while it may not help with speeding drivers in schools, is perhaps a more obvious solution to the car safety problem.