UAB researchers working on new app to help keep pedestrians safe

UAB developing pedestrian safety app
UAB developing pedestrian safety app
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 10:44 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - So far, 16 people have been hit by cars and killed in Jefferson County in 2023. More than 7,000 pedestrians were killed in the United States because of crashes involving motor vehicles in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

UAB researchers are now working on launching a cell phone app to help keep you safe when you’re walking near a street or crossing the road.

Pedestrian deaths are increasing across the state, and researchers at UAB began a month-long case study with nearly 400 students, where they tested a new technology to alert you while walking near an intersection.

The new app is called “StreetBit,” and it utilizes Bluetooth beacon technology to alert your phone if you are using it while getting close to an intersection. They placed tiny rock sized beacons in intersections around the UAB campus and had students listen to music, talk on the phone, or watch a video while they walked around. The app sends audio, vibration, and visual warnings when you approach a street corner where Bluetooth beacons are installed.

Creators also researched the expected costs per injury from distracted walking and said the app can help save the state millions.

“When someone gets into an accident, it’s not just injury,” StreetBit Co-Creator Dr. Ragib Hasan said. “It’s also loss of income, loss of activity, medical costs, and so on, all of it adds up. In our study, we found that it’ll save us about $18 million to $29 million per year just in the state of Alabama.”

UAB also did a study with the app in the business and entertainment districts in Birmingham and saw success, but you can’t download the app right now. Hasan said once they are able to add in more beacons and features, they will make it available.

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