By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure hopes to get approval from the Denver City Council this week for new technology to improve safety at major crosswalks. Infrared cameras will detect the difference in size between people and cars increasing the time for a cross signal to change and keeping a traffic light on red until someone reaches the other side of the street. 

“This has huge potential to increase safety for pedestrians,” said Nancy Kuhn, the director of public information for DOTI. “Detecting when they’re in the crosswalk, holding back the cars a little bit longer to allow them to clear the intersection.”

READ MORE: Cars Spun Out & Abandoned As Winter Storm Grips Denver Metro Area

A grant will fund the equipment and other new technology over the next year. DOTI has 17 intersections with high pedestrian traffic to start using the cameras. The devices will act more like sensors and do not record video. It looks at the mass of an object to note if it is a car or a person. Other technology for pedestrian movement is already being tested at different intersections in Denver. 

READ MORE: Businesses Near Convention Center Eager For Events: 'It's Our Livelihood'

“Everything we’re doing is to increase safety and prevent deaths and serious crashes on our streets,” she told CBS4 on a video conference call on Tuesday. “This is just another step we’re taking to that prioritizing pedestrians who our most vulnerable users of our roadway systems.”

If approved, once DOTI receives the grant the department can start looking for proposals and review bids to begin installation. The technology could be in place by the first quarter of 2022. Other concepts including flashing signs ahead of an intersection to alert drivers that someone is in a crosswalk. 

MORE NEWS: Union Organizing JBS Mass Vaccination Event: 'It's About Time They Are Prioritized'

“In general, we’re trying to make our system safer for people no matter how we want to get around town, it’s just another way we’re trying to do that,” she said.

Shawn Chitnis