Signs or lights embedded in pavements could stop people from walking into oncoming traffic while looking down at their phones.
That’s according to Shaun Helman, chief scientist for transport and behavioural science at the Transport Research Laboratory, who said it could be more effective in cutting casualties than trying to alter the behaviour of people who are constantly gazing at their mobiles.
Helman said: “If we are thinking about injury prevention, there is actually a strong case for redesigning infrastructure over relying on other methods of changing behaviour.
“If we are to provide information to people dependent on where they are looking, it is vital that this information is placed at points where important decisions need to be made.”
It follows research from Direct Line that suggests there are around 7,000 accidents in general at zebra and pelican crossings each year.
London-based design agency Mettle Studio won a contest by the insurance company to redesign pedestrian crossings for the modern era.
The automated crossing design used cameras to monitor the pavement for approaching pedestrians, with illuminating strips running across the road to warn drivers.
The lights glow amber to signal that a pedestrian is approaching and red if they step into the road. The design is supported by a number of road safety groups and its creators hope it will be adopted by councils.
Other countries have gone in a different direction, with cities in Belgium and China bringing in lanes for texting and walking, while some places in the Netherlands have LED lighting built into kerbs to alert pedestrians.