The Bluetooth-based system sends out warning
signals about approaching trams to users of mobile devices and could help
prevent the frequent accidents involving pedestrians and public transport in
The company also believes that the system can be applied to other
vehicles such as trains, buses and ambulances.
since the introduction of trams on Czech streets there have been associated
accidents. The most destructive have been caused by trams going off the rails
or crashing into other vehicles. However, cases when a pedestrian is knocked
down by a tram, causing either serious injury or death, are not infrequent.
with the exception of 2020, when streets were significantly less busy due to
government enforced coronavirus measures, the past 15 years were marked by at
least one death involving a tram every year. Meanwhile, cases of non-lethal
accidents involving a tram have ranged in the high double digit numbers for
years. For example, in 2019, there were over 80 such cases.
often causes such accidents is the lack of attention given by pedestrians to
their surroundings, because of distractions caused by their interactions with
mobile devices such as phones and mp3 players.
prevent these accidents the Prague Public Transit Company, which manages public
transport in the Czech capital, has been testing a new app developed by the
company Safe Public Transport.
Rajsner is the director of Safe Public Transport.
He says that the app is a
unique idea and is currently in the process of being patented.
first impulse for developing such an app came from the high number of accidents
on train tracks, as well as with trams. It is very difficult for these vehicles
to stop quickly enough when such incidents occur. It takes several seconds
after applying the brakes, during which the train or tram is still moving. For
this reason, we looked at the idea of informing the individual about the
possible danger, because it is easier for the individual to move than for the
application that Mr. Rajsner and his team came up with works through the
short-range wireless technology known as Bluetooth, which is incorporated
within most modern smartphones.
chose to use Bluetooth, because it is widely available and it uses a small
amount of battery power, less than one percent with this app. Furthermore, many
people today have Bluetooth generally switched on, for example, because they
use wireless headphones which operate on the Bluetooth system. We also set up
the app in a way that when you install it, Bluetooth automatically switches
trams which have been designated for testing in Prague are the 9, 11 and 22
lines - 97 trams in total. Each of these vehicles is fitted out with a unique
signal device that transmits waves using Bluetooth. The device, which has the
app installed and Bluetooth switched on, receives these transmissions and lets
out a warning signal that the paths of the tram and the user are about to
Rajsner explained how the system works in practice.
application is primarily targeted at pedestrians who pay insufficient attention
to their surroundings. These people may be on a call, listening to music, or
scrolling through social media with their headphones on. The app user can
select the type of sound which will inform him of a potentially hazardous tram
in his surroundings. The distance, at which the alarm sets off, ranges between
70 to 120 metres, depending on the type of mobile device, but also on the
evaluation of the surroundings.
For example, it depends on whether the tram is
on a street, or just making a turn. The user gets a cautionary notification
along with a sound signal, which can be either the sound of a tram, a beep, a
melody, or a vibration. We do not want the app to annoy the user, which is why
he or she can select the method through which they receive the warning.”
application has been in development for five years now and started being tested
in Prague at the beginning of February this year. Within 30 days it was
downloaded by 4,000 people in the capital. Many of the users have also actively
sent feedback to the developers, who are still tweaking the application.
example, the company has received a request from one of the country’s main
associations for the deaf and blind, which has asked the developers to add
features that would enable such clients to discern which tram number is
approaching and the direction in which it is headed.
success of POZOR TRAMVAJ! in the capital has led to the application now also
being tested in the second largest city in the Czech Republic - Brno. The
Moravian capital also registers dozens of pedestrians being hit by trams every
year. It’s Councillor for Transport Petr Kratochvíl says that these tend to
occur especially in the crowded centre of the city.
too is affected by accidents involving pedestrians and trams, especially in the
pedestrian zones in the centre of the city. For example, the main square in our
city has trams riding through them and several people nowadays live in a bubble
with their mobile devices switched on. The frequency of tram traffic, combined
with pedestrians and cyclists, makes it a safety concern.“
for this reason that the testing of POZOR TRAMVAJ! was initiated on tram line
number 4, which passes through Brno’s central square, where the danger is most
serious. Testing began on Wednesday and will run for a period of three months.
in Prague, the trams in question are fitted out with sensors and stickers
featuring a QR code, through which people can download the application.
Kratochvíl says that the city welcomes the innovation as an example of smart
traffic solutions in modern cities. However, there are still practical
questions which need to be answered through the testing, before the app is
adopted by the city in full.
to evaluate this method from a technical perspective, because we do have a few
questions regarding how the system works. For example, it is not clear whether,
when the tram passes through areas where there are cars, drivers who use the
app will also get the signal. We want to sort these questions out in the
testing period and also see how popular the app will be among the public. We
will then make a decision on whether to expand testing to other lines, or
whether to go straight to general usage.”
Prague, if everything goes according to plan, POZOR TRAMVAJ! could be set up as
a permanent preventative measure starting from this summer, says Safe Public
Transport Director Lukáš Rajsner.
stresses that POZOR TRAMVAJ! is based on a more universal application developed
by the company called SAFE, which can also be used to prevent train or
“It is a
universal device which can be placed into any type of mobile device. We chose
to focus on trams and trains, because there is a serious hazard involving these
vehicles. For example, just last year, 245 people were killed after being hit
by a train. Tram incidents reach similar numbers.
However, the device can also
be used with buses, or ambulances. We tested the system on ambulances in Brno
company’s optimism is vindicated, and its system proves to be reliable, it
could also help lower one of the most alarming safety statistics in the Czech
Republic. Train accidents result in over 1,000 casualties every year in the
Czech Republic, according to the Railway Inspection Authority, of which 250 are
this statistic also needs to be compared with Eurostat data, which shows that
the majority of deaths caused by train impact are actually suicides.
around 200 people in the Czech Republic commit suicide this way. An alarming
number when compared with other EU member states. The data is only worse in
Germany (646 in 2019) and France (261), both countries with significantly
any reduction in casualties on train lines would be welcome.
explains that, because the app can be downloaded onto any mobile device, it can
also be used in cars. Fitted into an automobile’s GPS system, the app would
therefore not only send out a warning signal upon the approach of a train, but
could also alert the driver before they approach a hazardous train crossing,
making the person aware and giving them sufficient time to prepare for any
experiments do turn out to be successful, Safe Public Transport could help
revolutionize transport safety.
material was brought up by employees of CzechTrade Scandinavia.
the source: Radio Prague, Tom McEnchroe
Lenka Žižková, Ondřej Tomšů