I think many people are familiar with the situation of people waiting at the pedestrian crossing and repeatedly pressing (sometimes bashing) the button in the belief that it might somehow speed up the process. I understand that there's not much you can do about old traffic signals that need an upgrade, and was wondering if this is something that traffic engineers are solving with new pedestrian crossing installations.

Just wondering from a UX design perspective, would either an indicator showing that it has already been pressed/triggered, or alternatively some counter showing how many times it has been pressed help to increase the longevity of these hardworking buttons?

Saw a similar question asked before here, but I wanted to see some actual design solutions (whether they already exist or not) that will help solve the problem effectively.

  • 2
    Related: Why do people press elevator call buttons repeatedly?
    – Izhaki
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 0:15
  • Interesting reference, I guess at least for elevators there isn't as much of a perceived danger/risk involved. You often see people press the button and then cross before the pedestrian light changes... can't do that in an elevator :D
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 0:31

1 Answer 1


Newer buttons I've seen both light and issue an audible response to acknowledge being pressed. The ones in my town say "Wait!" when pressed, which may discourage the pound-on-the-button behavior.

On the other hand, if the button is robust enough (and it had darned well better be, in this application), why not let people bang on it a few times? Doesn't do any harm, and if it reduces their frustration...

  • When the button says wait, it doesn't necessary indicate that it has been pressed, at least not as well as perhaps showing that it has been pressed x number of time already (although I realize it would be an unusual thing to show). Also, in the old traffic signals I've seen some very beaten up buttons that the council doesn't seem to know about or have the money to fix, so I still think it is a concern...
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 1:46
  • Since the number of times pressed DOESN'T make any difference, why would you want to display it and encourage the behavior you say you're trying to discourage?
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 1:55
  • Perhaps this is just my point of view, but imagine that you are at the traffic light and you see that it has a count of 10 already, and next time to come to the light and you see that it has a higher/lower count and the lights don't change any faster, it would be a good confirmation that pressing it more doesn't make any difference. Also, if the button keeps an internal count of the presses, it might provide information on when scheduled service/maintenance should happen.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 2:02
  • We agree that we disagree.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 4:22
  • 1
    Just my $0.02, the buttons in my town also say "Wait!" when you press it, and they passively play a (pleasant) metronome-like beeping noise along with some flashing LEDs. Personally, these newer buttons feel more alive/active than older crossings with just the button, perhaps because the extra features tell me that yes, pressing the button actually did something.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 20:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.