Dancing traffic lights and singing roads may sound like silly roadside distractions, but they're just the opposite. Both aim to made pedestrians and drivers more likely to follow the rules of the road.
If you've ever crossed the street against a traffic signal, you and millions of others are the reason the dancing traffic light was developed. "No one likes to wait. But what if we made waiting more entertaining?" says a video (below) pitching the traffic light innovation.
Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes Benz and Smart cars, created the lights and last summer installed them at four traffic signals in Lisbon, Portugal. The idea was to replace the stationary red figure indicating "don't cross now" with a figure that could boogie.
"These traffic lights were connected to a dancing booth where people could choose from five songs and slip into the role of the red man as soon as the light switched from green to red," Daimler AG spokeswoman Charlotte Siegel explains via email. "Movements were captured via Kinect technology and brought to the traffic light in real-time with the help of a tailor-made software."
It's part of Smart cars' #whatareyoufor campaign that comes up with creative ideas for urban living. The dancing traffic lights have been removed in Lisbon, but the company is thinking about rolling them out to other cities.
New Mexico also is taking an entertaining approach to improve safety on the roads. The state created a a "singing road" on part of Route 66. Those who don't speed will hear "America the Beautiful" play as they drive from Albuquerque to the mountain town of Tijeras.
"The goal of this experiment is to change driver behavior in a fun way by giving them a reward if they obey the speed limit," New Mexico Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Church says in a statement.
The road was developed with National Geographic Channel as part of its social experiment series called "Crowd Control," which will debut in November.
There's a singing road in Lancaster, Calif., too that was built for a Honda Motor Co. commercial a few years back. In 2008, it was relocated to Avenue G between 30th and 40th streets West and plays "The William Tell Overture," sort of.