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Traffic systems – Traffic light guiding system for the physically impaired (VSS2007/304)

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Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project website
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues


Background & Policy context

When planning light-signal systems, pedestrians have for a long time been considered to be an independent traffic flow. For some years, tactile, sonic and optical signals have been used for blind and visually impaired persons. This has already been reflected in Standard SN 860 836-1 „Signals for visually impaired persons“.

In traffic-planning and in the development of a traffic infrastructure, slow-moving traffic has meanwhile gained greater significance than in the past. Consequently, elderly people and persons with disabilities, who have the same right to assured mobility as younger and healthy persons, deserve greater attention. A distinction is drawn between elderly and disabled persons because older, healthy persons no longer have the same physical fitness as younger persons and because there are restrictions in mobility in all age groups.

Under the aspect of barrier-free constructions, the research needs are to elaborate specific requirements for the mobility of disabled and elderly people in road traffic and particularly at light-signal-controlled intersections and crossings. 


The research project aims at analyzing the actual planning and implementation status of traffic-related and structural measures for disabled and elderly people, at making proposals as to further developments, and at providing methodical help for planners and operators of traffic control systems.

An update and, if necessary, an extension of the standard is possible and envisaged on the basis of the results of the research findings.


Project activities will be provided in following steps:

  • Analysis and review of existing legal provisions, regulations, standards and other publications
  • Analysis of foreign foundations and experiences
  • To provide a local investigation to identify nodes with traffic signals, positive results and weaknesses and evaluate, create documentation
  • Develop methodological tools for operators and planners of traffic signals by specific requirement profiles for disabled and elderly people, checking to what extent the existing standards and guidelines conform to these, recognizing the need for action and for technical proposals 
  • Development of operational criteria for the necessary and reasonable additional equipment
  • Providing of final report with foundations for the standard work


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Swiss Government: State Secretariat for Education and Research
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


As a result of the project mobility patters were described for various groups of elderly road users (motorists, cyclists, pedestrians) and for various kinds of disabilities (especially resulting in restrictions in terms of perception and/or movement).

In a next step, requirements on LSS as traffic control systems were deduced, taking into account the perceived mobility patterns. In this respect, the study differentiates between road construction/ state and technological equipment and control.

It becomes evident that these requirements cannot always be met without conflict. One example of external conflicts can be found in the differences in conduct between young and elderly road users. Internal conflicts may appear in the considerations necessary for various forms of disability. For all of these, the study suggests practical solutions.

Extensive local surveys on LSS in Basle, Lugano, and Zurich demonstrate solutions already found for elderly and disabled road users. They also point to weak spots. From these, concrete and generally applicable suggestions for improvement have been found.

The scientific and practical research conducted resulted in a guideline describing how the requirements of the elderly and the disabled can be integrated in the planning, realization, use, and maintenance of LSS.

The results of the study are to be included in the standard. To this effect, existing standards it light-signals systems were analyzed, along with the need for revisions. The fact that there are plans for a general standardization in removing obstacles is being planned was also taken into account. For this reason, we suggest that the requirements on LSS be added to each respective VSS-Standard (VSS: Swiss Association of Road and Traffic Experts) on Traffic Control Planning, Traffic Management, and Operational Equipment. Suggestions for the revision of engineering standards are given in detail.

The final report documents the approach and results of the research. The guideline and the standardization concept provide useful solutions for the consideration of the needs of disabled and elderly people in LSS.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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