June 2017 Vol. 25, No. 2

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Countermeasures improve pedestrian safety

pedestrian crosswalk

Pedestrians account for more than 17.5 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and the majority of these deaths occur at uncontrolled crossing locations such as mid-block or unsignalized intersections. These are among the most common locations for pedestrian fatalities generally because of inadequate pedestrian crossing facilities and insufficient or inconvenient crossing opportunities, all of which create barriers to safe, convenient, and complete pedestrian networks.

Expecting pedestrians to travel significantly out of their way to cross a roadway to reach their destination is unrealistic and counterproductive to encouraging healthier transportation options. By focusing on uncontrolled locations, agencies can address a significant national safety problem and improve quality of life for pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

Pedestrian safety countermeasures

Every Day Counts is the FHWA’s initiative to advance a culture of innovation in the transportation community in partnership with public and private stake- holders. Every two years, FHWA works with state departments of transportation, local governments, tribes, private industry, and other stakeholders to identify a new set of innovative technologies and practices that merit widespread deployment through EDC.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is promoting the following pedestrian safety countermeasures through the fourth round of Every Day Counts (EDC-4):

  • Road diets can reduce vehicle speeds and the number of lanes pedestrians cross. They can also create space to add new pedestrian facilities.
  • Pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHBs) are a beneficial intermediate option between rectangular rapid flash beacons (RRFBs) and a full pedestrian signal. PHBs provide positive stop control in areas without the high pedestrian traffic volumes that typically warrant signal installation.
  • Pedestrian refuge islands allow pedestrians a safe place to stop at the midpoint of the roadway before crossing the remaining distance. This is particularly helpful for older pedestrians or others with limited mobility.
  • Raised crosswalks can reduce vehicle speeds.
  • Crosswalk visibility enhancements, such as crosswalk lighting and enhanced signing and marking, help drivers detect pedestrians—particularly at night.

PEDSAFE online tool

Countermeasures are being promoted through FHWA’s PEDSAFE, an online tool that helps transportation agencies diagnose and treat pedestrian safety issues. PEDSAFE provides a decision process to select the most applicable countermeasures for a specific location. It also includes numerous case studies that describe how communities across the country have implemented these safety improvements.