Inquiry launched into 'Puffin' crossings amid safety fears
The Scottish Government has launched an inquiry into the effectiveness of new-style ‘Puffin’ crossings, following claims they could cause more accidents than the older ‘Pelican’ models (Telegraph).
The ‘Pedestrian User-Friendly Intelligent’ crossings, which feature the little green man on the same display as the button, were developed as a safer way for people, particularity those with a disability or in wheelchairs, to cross busy roads.
The new-style ‘Puffin’ indicators, located at waist height on the same side of the road, are designed to encourage pedestrians to look at oncoming traffic. They were introduced as an alternative to the ‘Pelican’ systems which display the flashing green ‘running man’ on a traffic light on the opposite side of the road.
The Scottish Government has announced a fresh investigation into the ‘Puffin’ crossing, which was introduced 20 years ago, after doubts were raised about its safety.
Experts will examine the effectiveness of Puffin crossings – which have yet to fully replace the older Pelican models – amid fears that confusion between the two systems means that some people are not sure when it is safe to cross the road.
The research, commissioned by Transport Scotland and ‘Scots’, a body made up of local authority transportation chiefs, could result in additional pedestrian warning lights installed on thousands of crossings.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The findings will provide recommendations to ensure the most suitable crossings are provided for pedestrians, in particular those with disabilities, and that we continue to meet our obligations as laid out in the Equalities Act.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) will study the findings of the investigation when it is completed later this year.
A 2008 study commissioned by the DfT found that Puffins were significantly safer than Pelican crossings with 24% fewer pedestrian accidents and 16% fewer involving cars.
Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said: “Given the cost of Puffin crossings, it is unlikely that many local authorities will be looking at installing them in the current financial climate.
“What is important is to achieve consistency within an area: too many crossings of different types can cause confusion and uncertainty for the pedestrian however mobile they may be.
“It's therefore important to assess pedestrian flows and levels of mobility before deciding which type of crossing to introduce.”
Norman Baker, local transport minister, said: “There may in certain circumstances be problems at some Puffin crossings where people waiting to cross the road obscure the view of the green and red signals for others.
“We have taken action to improve visibility by including high-level additional signals in the recent amendments to the traffic signs regulations.
“These can be placed above the standard signals so that everyone can see when it is safe to cross the road.”
Click here to read the full Telegraph report.