Nissan , which is apparently on a mission to push cars into a new era in Japan, this week announced the latest stage in ongoing research into using technology to reduce traffic accidents, particularly those involving pedestrians.

The company's new Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) aims to inform drivers of the whereabouts of pedestrians using 3G phones with GPS and in-car warning systems connected to navigation systems.

People presence

In theory, anyone carrying a suitable phone will be logged by a central ITS server, which will then send warnings to cars using the system if it deems the pedestrian to be in a vulnerable position.

Earlier aspects of the technology focused on warning of other cars in dangerous situations and providing information on traffic conditions. Nissan's long-term goal is to reduce deaths and serious injuries involving its cars from 15.3 per 10,000 vehicles in 1995 to half that level by 2015.

As admirable as the aim is, it's difficult to see how warning drivers of the presence of pedestrians can produce anything other than information overload, particularly when Tokyo streets often look like the above photograph. That's without even considering that the most vulnerable pedestrians - the very young and the very old - are often those without phones.