How to Improve a Crosswalk
Nearly 70,000 pedestrians were injured and 6,000 killed on U.S. streets in 2017, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). That is the highest fatality total in 25 years. Engineers face constant pressure to reduce those incidents. What are some ways to improve the safety and lower fatalities in crosswalks?
Excessive speed is often cited as a cause for pedestrian deaths. Measures such as speed bumps force drivers to slow down, giving them more time to see and avoid pedestrians.
Marking the crosswalk with premark will ensure that the area is identified to both pedestrians and drivers. The large white lines are a visual queue that indicate where the safe-zone for the crosswalk should be for pedestrians.
Better Street Lighting
The GHSA study reports that 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. Common problem areas include stretches of road that transition from residential to rural, where drivers may be less watchful for pedestrians.
Drivers can’t follow what they can’t see. Many traffic signs, including speed limits, were made with outdated sheeting that does not maximize reflectivity. Replacing those signs with ones using better sheeting, will improve visibility and thus increasing the chance a driver sees the sign.
Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons
A study by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) revealed that RRFBs brought drivers’ yields up to 90 percent at pedestrian crossings. This is reason why the agency announced MUTCD Interim Approval 21 (IA-21) earlier in 2018. This has led to traffic engineers installing this proven solution now that it’s once again compliant on U.S. roadways.
A popular alternative to RRFBs, is a pedestrian BlinkerSign. It draws the eye by adding flashing LEDs to a traditional sign. In a 2011 Vermont study, the introduction of such a system increased the rate at which drivers yielded to pedestrians, in an uncontrolled intersection it increased 23%, accomplishing a total yield rate of 80%.
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