U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
NCHRP Report 500 / Volume 12: A Guide for Reducing Collisions at Signalized Intersections
Signalized intersections with high frequencies of pedestrian and/or bicycle crashes. Also on routes serving schools or other generators of pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
A. Well-marked crosswalks and easily viewable pedestrian signal heads can improve safety. B. This photo shows a example of using a no right-turn sign in conjunction with a leading pedestrian Phase. C. An example of a pedestrian countdown signal.
Photos by: Texas Transportation Institute, FHWA
Nearly one-third of all pedestrian-related crashes occur at or within 50 feet of an intersection. At traffic signals, the biggest crash problem for pedestrians comes from drivers making a permissive left turn across the crosswalk with the walk signal. Thirty percent involve a turning vehicle and another 22% involve a pedestrian either running across the intersection or darting in front of a vehicle whose view was blocked just prior to impact. Another 16% of these intersection-related crashes occur because of driver violation (e.g., failure to yield the right-of-way).
Traffic control improvements that can be made to an intersection to increase pedestrian safety include the following:
Providing pedestrian push buttons may facilitate safe pedestrian roadway crossings at signalized intersections (versus mid-block crossings), where pedestrian conflicts with motor vehicles can be managed through use of pedestrian crossing signals and/or exclusive pedestrian-only phases during signal operation. Ensure that pedestrian push buttons are easily accessible and are ADA compliant. Strongly consider the use of assessable push buttons that provide visual, tactile and audible cues. For existing push buttons, interim improvements, such as signing and removal of roadside furniture, can make them more accessible. Consult the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities for information on bicycle safety. Traffic control improvements that can be made to an intersection to increase safety for bicyclists include "Bicyclist Dismount" signs at intersections and stop and "Bicyclist Dismount" signs at intersections with bike trails.
The key to success for this strategy is to get the appropriate agencies to look at pedestrian and bicycle facilities from a more systematic point of view. That is, rather than making improvements where problems occur, anticipate the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists during the design of other intersection improvements. Incorporate appropriate improvements in the design before problems occur. Involve groups representing pedestrians and bicyclists in the early stages of a program's development.
Proper maintenance of improved pedestrian and bicycle facilities is also necessary. For example, some issues-a missing or broken section of sidewalk or a construction zone that forces pedestrians to walk in a traffic lane-are often overlooked.
Pedestrian improvements can be completed quickly if no additional right-of-way is needed.
Costs for most of the described improvements should be low. Updated signal equipment may be required to employ some of the advanced signal techniques.
TRIED/PROVEN: One study showed a 25% decrease in pedestrian-related crashes with the installation of pedestrian countdown signal heads. Another study indicated a 20% decrease in all types of crashes when pedestrian signals were installed. Yet another study determined that implementing a leading pedestrian interval may decrease pedestrian-related crashes by 5%.
Strategies to reduce pedestrian and bicycle crashes are compatible with most other strategies for improving safety at signalized intersections.
The AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities should be consulted for information on bicycle safety. NCHRP Report 500: Volume 10 comprehensively addresses pedestrian safety.
For more details on this and other countermeasures: http://safety.transportation.org
For more information contact:
FHWA Office of Safety Design
E71, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, D.C. 20590
FHWA Resource Center – Safety and Design Team
19900 Governor's Drive, Suite 301
Olympia Fields, IL 60461