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FHWA Home / Safety / Pedestrian & Bicycle / Pedestrian Safety Strategic Plan

Pedestrian Safety Strategic Plan: Background Report

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To develop the foundation and information underlying the Strategic Plan, the project team utilized four main sources of information: 1) a data analysis of pedestrian crash and walking trends and expected demographic changes, 2) a literature review of recently published pedestrian safety research and resources, 3) an evaluation of existing FHWA products and dissemination strategies, and 4) stakeholder feedback and expert opinion on research and information needs to advance pedestrian safety efforts (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Model for the Development of the Strategic Plan.
Flow chart. This flow chart shows three boxes that say stakeholder input, literature review, and data analysis grouped together at the top and a fourth box, product evaluation, in the same row. The group and product evaluation each have a descending line which then converges to lead to the second row, research report, and the third row, strategic plan.

The methodology for performing the data analysis was based on a secondary review of several information sources, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Safety Fact Sheets, published reports that examined Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) data, and others. No new data was collected; in some cases, FARS or other data was reviewed directly to confirm trends or examine previously unexplored issues.

The methodology for the literature review is defined more in the literature review section below. The method for conducting the product evaluation and the process for receiving stakeholder input is described below.

Methodology for Evaluating Existing FHWA Products

To conduct an independent evaluation and unbiased assessment of existing FWHA products, Westat was brought in to work directly with FHWA. Westat’s overall approach to the product evaluations was to conduct a targeted Web-based survey followed by a smaller set of telephone interviews with a selected group of respondents. Seventeen products were evaluated (see Table 1); based on these products and deployments, questionnaire items were carefully developed based on cognitive interviewing and piloting. An example of the survey is provided in Appendix I.

Table 1. FHWA Products Evaluated.
Title Link
Bicycle Safer Journey http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_bike_order/
Bicycle Compatibility Index http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/library/details.cfm?id=28
Bikesafe: Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/bikesafe/
How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan http://www.walkinginfo.org/library/details.cfm?id=229
Ped/Bike Crash Analysis Tool http://www.walkinginfo.org/facts/pbcat/
Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Materials for Hispanic Audiences http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/hispanic/materials/
Pedestrian and Bicyclist Intersection Safety Indices https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/pedbike/06125/
Pedestrian and Bicyclist University Course https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/pedbike/05085/
Pedestrian Forum Newsletter http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/pedforum/
Pedestrian Road Safety Audit Guidelines and Prompt Lists http://drusilla.hsrc.unc.edu/cms/downloads/PedRSA.reduced.pdf
Pedestrian Safety Campaign http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/local_rural/pedcampaign/
Pedestrian Safer Journey http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/saferjourney/
Pedestrian Safety Guide for Transit Agencies http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_transit/ped_transguide/#toc
Pedsafe: Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System http://www.walkinginfo.org/pedsafe/
Resident's Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_cmnity/ped_walkguide/
Safety Effects of Marked Versus Unmarked Crosswalks at Uncontrolled Locations http://www.walkinginfo.org/library/details.cfm?id=54
Walkability Checklist http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/PEOPLE/injury/pedbimot/ped/walk1.html

Westat surveyed 2,452 individuals who have ordered and are or have been users of FHWA products. Participants were limited to the United States. The survey took approximately 15-25 minutes per person. 478 respondents completed the entire survey, yielding a response rate of 19.5 percent, which is common among Web-based surveys. Participants were emailed individual links in three waves, with follow-up reminders if they did not respond within one week to increase the response rate. Beyond the general survey, follow-up phone interviews (lasting approximately 5 - 15 minutes) were conducted with 85 professionals (5 for each of the 17 products evaluated) to obtain more detailed information regarding their views on improvements and materials that are needed. Interviews were scheduled based on information submitted by respondents at the end of the Web survey where they were asked to volunteer for a follow-up discussion about specific products. Each person was interviewed about one product, with approximately three to five individuals interviewed for each product. The details of survey implementation are discussed below.

Prior to surveying the target population, Westat submitted questions to cognitive testing using available Westat staff and select FHWA personnel through the project Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) to verify understandability of questions included in the instrument, instructions, and response options. Westat used a Web-based survey design, with multiple choice and rating questions based on a branching tree structure, with space for additional open-ended comments for certain questions. This design was chosen for a number of reasons: it is efficient and affordable compared to other survey methods; it made use of FHWA email data available for people who ordered products, which represented a realistic range of product users; and it allowed for better control over having all survey questions completed in the desired order.

The set of surveys gathered a range of information:

Data analyses and summaries were composed of basic frequencies and response distributions of multiple-choice and rating questions, as well as qualitative information from open-ended questions and interview questions. For the results of the survey, see the results section.

Methodology for Stakeholder Participation

A one-day stakeholder workshop was conducted in December 2008 to solicit input on needed research and research priorities from a diverse group of stakeholders and pedestrian safety experts. The stakeholders in attendance at this workshop are listed in Figure 2 below as well as in Appendix 3. In advance of the meeting, a “stakeholder packet” was sent to participants to provide background on the project, an agenda for the meeting, a summary of pedestrian crash trends, and a brief literature review of recently completed pedestrian research. To facilitate the discussion, the stakeholders were divided into three groups, each of which broke out to discuss key aspects of the pedestrian safety plan: 1) Vision, Goals, and Measurable Objectives of the Strategic Plan; 2) Prioritizing Recommended Research Initiatives and Activities; and 3) Plan Implementation. Appendix IV lists some of the discussion questions covered during the workshop during each of the three workshops. For this report, the discussion related to prioritizing recommended research initiatives and activities is the focus and is covered in more depth in the Results and Discussion section. The discussion of plan vision and goals, as well as plan implementation, was used to directly shape the development of the Strategic Plan.

After the breakout sessions, a list of research topics discussed was compiled, and each stakeholder (including FHWA representatives present at the meeting) ranked each research topic on a scale of 1 to 5, as well as provided a “top choice” for a research topic within each major topic area: 1) Problem Identification and Data Collection, 2) Analysis and Decision-Making, 3) Development and Evaluation of Countermeasures, and 4) Product Delivery and Technology Transfer. The list of top 10 research topics from this voting process is discussed in the Findings and Discussion section. The list of topics voted on in this meeting included topics identified in the workshop as well as all topics previously identified by TRB Pedestrian Committee and listed in the research needs statement database.

Table 2: Participating Stakeholders
Name Organization
Andrew Dannenberg Centers for Disease Control
Anne Marie Doherty NYC Pedestrian Coordinator
Dan Burden Walkable Communities, Inc
David Levinger America Walks
Dennis Cannon U.S. Access Board
Dennis Scott FL DOT
Jana Lynott American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
Janet Barlow Accessible Design for the Blind
John LaPlante AASHTO Non-Motorized Committee
Laura Fraade-Blanar Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Lauren Marchetti National Center for Safe Routes to School
Lois Thibault U.S. Access Board
Kit Keller Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals
Kristen Grove Chicago Ped/Bike Coordinator
Marsha Mason CALTRANS
Matthew Ridgway ITE Non-Motorized Committee
Michael Cynecki City of Phoenix Traffic Engineer
Richard F. Pain Transportation Research Board
Richard Nassi City of Tucson Traffic Engineer (retired)
Ron Van Houten Western Michigan University
Sharon Roerty National Center for Bicycling and Walking
Shawn Turner Texas Transportation Institute/TRB Pedestrian Committee Chair
Stephen Krest Farmington, NM Ped/Bike Coordinator
Thomas Huber WI State Ped/Bike Coordinator

After the stakeholder workshop, the list of research topics was further refined by the project team, taking into account the mission and scope of FHWA’s Office of Safety, knowledge of current or past studies documented in the literature, the expertise of pedestrian safety professionals at the FTA and NHTSA, and national pedestrian safety trend data. The following criteria were used to select the highest priority research topics:

Based on these criteria, a short list of research topics was developed, which is further discussed in the Results and Discussion section below.

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Page last modified on February 1, 2013
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