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A big picture review of pedestrian crash trends, walking patterns, and future demographic changes described earlier revealed four key areas of need for pedestrian safety research and technology transfer, as well as opportunities with the highest potential to reduce pedestrian crashes. These include the following, which are described below in more detail:
As individuals over the age of 70 are over represented in pedestrian fatalities (16 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in 2007), and are expected to be a quickly growing demographic group in the coming years (projected to top 63 million by 2025), funding research on understanding the needs of older pedestrians and developing planning and design best practices for accommodating older pedestrians will be critical. Also, improvements made to better accommodate older pedestrians are likely to benefit all pedestrians, so there is a very high potential for crash reduction among all pedestrians.
Another important demographic group to consider is the rising immigrant population. As previously discussed, immigration accounted for 42 percent of population growth between 2000 and 2005 and the U.S. is expected to have a minority majority by 2042. Also, many immigrant groups and ethnic sub-populations, such as Hispanics, are overrepresented in pedestrian fatalities and injuries and often reside in lower-income areas with poor pedestrian facilities but no other means of travel. Little is known about the epidemiology of crashes involving immigrant pedestrians or what educational, enforcement, encouragement, or environmental/engineering solutions are effective in reducing these crashes. With the large expected growth of this population in coming years, research and development related to this demographic group will likely have a high payoff for improving pedestrian safety nationwide.
As noted previously, America ’s rapid urbanization will likely lead to more pedestrian crashes occurring in urban areas in the next 15 years. In 2007, 73 percent of fatalities occurred in urban areas. Additionally, many of the states with the most rapid metropolitan growth are also the states with historically high pedestrian crash frequencies and rates (primarily states in the South and Southwest such as, Florida, New Mexico, Texas, and North Carolina). Some of this may be related to the immigrant population issues described above, but it is evident that a research and outreach focus on urban areas, especially in the South and Southwest, has the potential to reach a high percentage of the population and the most high-risk areas in the U.S.
Within urban areas, the majority of pedestrian fatalities in 2007 occurred on arterial roads. High-speed, high-volume multilane arterial roads have long been known to be a problem for pedestrians, especially for those trying to cross the road. The most common crash type found was related to the improper crossing of a roadway or intersection (almost 20 percent of all crashes typed). Thus, a focus on research to examine and improve pedestrian safety when crossing and when walking along multilane arterial roads will likely have a wide application to addressing pedestrian crashes in the future.
As identified in existing FHWA research agendas, mission statements, and through discussion with FHWA staff, there are four key areas in which research is needed in order to comprehensively and systematically address pedestrian safety at the national level. These key areas, which form the framework of the Strategic Plan, are:
The recommended research topics identified in this project are listed under three of the four key research areas (areas 1, 2, and 3 above). Topics for technology transfer efforts (area 4) will be based on, and integrated with, some of the selected basic research topics from the following list. This list represents some of the top research ideas that have been identified as being the most needed (i.e., related to critical gaps in knowledge with little to no previous research in this area), as having the greatest potential short and long-term impact in improving pedestrian safety, and as fitting within the jurisdiction and scope of the Turner Fairbank Pedestrian and Bicyclist Research and Development Program and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Program in the Office of Safety.
Based on the literature review described below, there were a number of pedestrian data sources and recent studies identified on pedestrian safety topics. The following presents some general findings based on the literature review of pedestrian data and safety papers published in recent years. It is organized by a discussion of critical gaps in the existing national data that can support research, gaps in the research literature that are of interest to the FHWA Office of Safety, opportunities for collaboration in addressing pedestrian safety issues with other organizations, and, finally, a summary of existing activities related to technology transfer and recommendations for future work.
There are several national data sources available which are useful for pedestrian safety research and trend documentation. However, there is still critical lack of high-quality, nationally representative data that documents pedestrian trips and can be used to estimate pedestrian exposure and crash risk, key measures for evaluating pedestrian safety performance. There is also need for data sources that can be consistently compared over time and can connect pedestrian safety trends to area characteristics. The following section describes some of the available data sources for understanding pedestrian safety issues and some limitations of these data in supporting high-quality research.
The National Household Travel Survey currently serves as the most comprehensive data source for transportation and travel statistics in the U.S. The NHTS collects data related to mode share, trip purpose, length, distance, as well as demographic information. States are also given the option of collecting more robust data sets as add-ons to the national NHTS data set, allowing those agencies to better understand trends in their state. The most recent NHTS survey was administered between April 2008 and May 2009, and the data is scheduled to be released in February of 2010.
Efforts have been made recently to increase the sample size of the survey and gather more specific information. The 2001 survey included 70,000 households, while the forthcoming 2008 data includes 155,000. The 2001 NHTS placed a greater focus on recording non-motorized trips than surveys in previous years, by explicitly asking respondents how many walking or biking trips they had taken during their survey day and over the week prior. Additionally, it provided more “trip purpose” answer options that are likely to be made by walking or bicycling, such as “exercise.” These trips, and ones similar to them, may have been missed in previous survey results. Due to improvements in the data collection process, the 2001 NHTS data results show an artificial increase in relation to previous years, simply by recording more trips that may have been uncounted before.
In addition to the evolution of the NHTS survey that makes it difficult to compare trends between surveys taken in different years, there are other limitations to the data. Recording self-reported information on non-motorized trips over the past weeks can be subject to question because it asks the individual to recall data. As the NHTS is a national survey documenting general travel trends, it lacks detail specific to smaller geographic areas and does not include information about infrastructure, surrounding land uses or characteristics of the survey population. These elements might further explain pedestrian crash and safety trends (Clifton and Krizek, 2004). Finally, the NHTS is only collected every five to seven years, meaning that there is a wide span of time during which no data is available. Because of this, it is very difficult to use the data to evaluate the effectiveness of specific countermeasures that are intended to influence pedestrian safety or activity.
FARS is a national database of all motor vehicle crashes that result in a fatality to either a vehicle occupant or nonmotorist, from injuries resulting from the crash within 30 days of the crash. The crashes must occur on a path of travel that is typically open to the public in order to be included. This pre-requisite causes the database to underestimate pedestrian fatalities, since it does not include those that occur on private property. Composed of data formatted and reported by trained FARS analysts within each state, FARS data is compiled from police, medical examiner, and emergency medical service reports, as well as state highway and vehicle information files, among others. As data is sourced from a compendium of reports, the information may contain missing or inaccurate data. Data about each crash are contained within four forms: accident, vehicle, driver, and person. Influence of alcohol in crashes is also recorded, but on different forms, and is not considered highly accurate due to the data collection and reporting practices of various states. After information is reported, quality control checks are run to try to ensure that available data is consistent, timely, complete, and accurate. Data is available for each year from 1975 to present.
The ACS is a survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau since 1996 that provides communities a snapshot of how they can better plan for community change. It presents national economic, social, demographic, housing, and travel trends. A smaller sample of the U.S. population is surveyed than in the U.S. Census, approximately 3 million addresses, but it is conducted each year. An address may only be selected for the sample once every 5 years, and each participating address is chosen because it is representative of the surrounding community. Although more detailed information can be collected as a result of the smaller sample size, there is some margin of error in extrapolating the results of a sample to apply to national trends. Data is collected via a single day travel diary and a follow up phone interview.
One of the benefits of ACS and Census data is that it has regularly been collected for many years. However, like the NHTS survey described above, the ACS survey design and definitions have been modified over various years, and there are some elements that cannot be compared to other data years. While the definitions in regards to journey to work have not changed, care should still be taken in comparing this information across time. Some elements which have shifted may be geographic boundaries, definitions used to determine respondent residence, and the proportion of group quarters residents who are counted between the state and sub-state levels. One major limitation to the data is that it primarily reports commuting (to work) trips. While this information can be useful, it is possible that a large number of trips are not being reported, such as trips for exercise and recreation. Furthermore, mode splits, such as walking to the bus or train or walking on some days per week are not counted as “walking to work” trips, but as bus or train trips, so pedestrian trips are systematically undercounted.
Spearheaded by NHTSA and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), this survey is the first of its kind to document bicycling and pedestrian trips, behaviors, and attitudes across the nation. From that information, manners in which the environment and infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists may be improved are highlighted. The random-digit-dialing phone survey was administered to 9,616 respondents aged 16 years or older from June 11 to August 20, 2002. Participants provided information regarding the past 30 days of walking and bicycling, with the most detail in regards to the most recent travel day. Results were weighted to reflect the national population. A wealth of information is presented from the survey results, including an outline of reasons why people do not walk (ranging from disabilities and health reasons to bad weather) and the impact of broad features of community design on whether individuals choose to walk.
While this dataset is useful for gaining detailed insight into pedestrian travel trends in the summer of 2002, there are no additional years of data to which it can be compared, and the dataset does not purport to project year-round travel trends. Like the NHTS survey, this data source suffers from the bias and inaccuracies inherent to self-reported data, and it does not take into account other specific environmental features that can be explored in relation to the documented attitudes and behaviors. Additionally, the survey only includes individuals aged 16 and up; as children make up a large proportion of the walking and bicycling population, survey results may under represent pedestrian activity from these age groups.
Information for the GES has been collected since 1988, compiling data solely from Police Accident Reports (PARs). Recorded incidents all involve a motor vehicle traveling on a traffic way and must result in fatality, or some sort of injury or property damage. Each year, about 400 police jurisdictions in 60 areas are chosen that are representative of the geography, roadway mileage, population, and traffic density across the U.S. A weighted sampling procedure is used in this process to ensure that infrequent kinds of incidents are adequately represented. Of these 60 areas, GES data collectors take random samples of PARs from each week, for a total of about 50,000 PARs annually. Approximately 90 data elements from the PARs are then coded and formatted to protect individual privacy and checked for validity and consistency. Mathematical weights are assigned to each record so that national estimates can be made (NTSB, 2002).
GES data informs NHTSA and other DOT agency traffic safety analysts, as well as researchers and decision-makers. It is a useful resource because it monitors the entire range of incidents from minor to fatal, while the FARS database includes only fatalities. Also, since it documents only crashes that were serious enough to warrant a PAR, the data set focuses on incidents which are of greatest concern to the safety and well being of the general public. However, because of this criterion, it fails to include a potentially large amount of minor pedestrian-related incidents that could be useful to account for and understand. Also, the fact that the dataset is a national sample limits the amount of detailed information one might extract for smaller geographies. Along the same lines, even though records are mathematically weighted, there is still some margin of error to be expected when extrapolating trends for the nation from sample data.
All of the identified gaps discussed below are related to and consistent with the findings from the crash trend analysis that showed that focusing research on pedestrian crossings (at intersections and midblock locations, both signalized and unsignalized) and in urban areas (where there are likely to be more pedestrians and transit systems to include in studies) is important and has a high potential for affecting a large number of pedestrian crashes. The following paragraphs reflect the section on key pedestrian safety issues outlined above.
Only a few studies have taken into account socio-economic issues when looking at pedestrian crash issues and potential countermeasures (McMahon, 2001; Xuemi, 2008; Christie, 2007; Barton, 2007; Ryb, 2007). As previously discussed in the analysis of pedestrian crash trends, there is a strong need and a high payoff potential for better understanding pedestrian safety issues and effective solutions related to immigrant populations.
As identified in the analysis of pedestrian crash data above, there is also a great need and a high payoff potential for focusing research and outreach on older pedestrian related issues. Some work has been conducted to date on older pedestrians. Most of the work has been in reference to walking speeds and design issues at intersections (Stollof, 2007; Staplin, 2001). There remains a need to comprehensively understand older pedestrian safety issues, especially issues related to hearing, vision, and mobility loss, and appropriate infrastructure accommodations.
The concept of “Safety in Numbers” and the relationship of exposure and safety is one emerging topic that has not been adequately covered, in part because of the lack of quality national exposure data discussed earlier. Two studies (Jacobsen, 2003; and Geyer, 2006) have looked at the relationship between pedestrian volume and overall safety. However, neither study utilized a large sample size nor adjusted for potential confounders in their models, such as traffic characteristics. If there is a relationship between pedestrian volumes and overall safety (as measured by individual crash risk), then there are significant implications for interventions and decision-making that prioritizes increasing pedestrian activity. In addition, an analysis of best practices in the collection of pedestrian exposure data, especially in relation to National Exposure data, and an evaluation of Automated Pedestrian Detection Technologies and other video data collection techniques would provide greater insight into this relationship. The development of accurate pedestrian exposure measures will aid in elucidating how pedestrian volumes affect pedestrian safety as well as how new or rehabilitated pedestrian facilities affect levels of walking.
Hand-held communication devices such as mobile telephones are widely used by a large percentage of the population in the United States. Little research has been conducted regarding the effects of hand-held devices on pedestrian and driver concentration levels and safety, though various states have enacted laws prohibiting cellular phone use while driving. By conducting further research to determine the effects on pedestrian and driver safety, countermeasures and prohibitive legislation can be developed to address this issue.
Pedestrian problem area identification (either intersection or high risk “zone”) and prioritization methods have been the subject of a few recent studies (Pulugartha, 2007; Schneider, 2004; Natarajan, 2008; Carter, 2006; Schneider, 2001). However, more research and tools are needed to help practitioners accurately and systematically identify pedestrian risk areas that could be pro-actively treated.
Also, while little research has explored sources of funding and how communities make funding decisions, funding is often cited as the primary challenge to addressing pedestrian safety concerns. There is a strong need for research that explores how communities can obtain, allocate, and use transportation funds in an efficient and effective manner, and how funding levels relate directly or indirectly to pedestrian safety outcomes.
Related to the concept of safety in numbers described in the section above is the concept that land use and development decisions, which affect the density of origins and destinations that pedestrians can access and subsequently mode choice, have a potential for a strong but indirect effect on overall pedestrian safety. While a number of studies from the planning and public health fields have begun exploring factors related to land use and the built environment that are related to walking, few studies have directly examined the relationship between land use and pedestrian safety. This area of research is thus ripe with opportunities for further exploration.
Innovative Research and Evaluation
Agencies frequently struggle with determining the appropriate measures for improving safety. One of the most sought after tools for implementing pedestrian safety measures are guidelines or criteria that describe conditions when a countermeasure may be effective in improving pedestrian safety. A good example of research that provides such guidelines is for crosswalk markings at unsignalized crossings (Zegeer, 2005). Not only is there a need for similar guidance for other measures, but there is a need for a more comprehensive approach for solving pedestrian safety issues. In essence, agencies need tools that enable them to make a comprehensive look at pedestrian treatments, are based on sound research, and provide estimates of their potential benefits (i.e., Crash Reduction Factors, CRFs). This section briefly describes studies that can be used to help agencies develop the guidance they need and describes some of the critical gaps. However, it should be noted that where research exists it may be limited in the depth or breadth in which it investigates a topic and more definitive studies may be needed to develop a truly comprehensive toolkit.
A few studies have found that high-speed roads are significantly associated with higher pedestrian crash risks and frequencies (Dewey, 2003; McMahon, 2001; Davis, 2006; Ray, 2007). Pedestrian safety studies have recently been published on speed as related to traffic signal operation (Lenne, 2007); traffic calming measures (Huang, 2001); and design issues related to speeding (Potts, 2007). However, little information has been published on the ways to cost-effectively retro-fit such types of roads, and how to balance safety improvements with other tradeoffs, such as operational effects of lowering speeds or traffic volume.
As described previously, pedestrian safety at intersections is a major area of concern for pedestrians and has received attention from several studies, primarily with respect to signs and pavement markings (Zegeer, 2005; Huang, 2000; Fitzpatrick, 2006; Nambisan, 2008; Mitman, 2008; Banerjee, 2007); signals and signal timing (Lu, 2009; Fayish, 2009; Acharjee, 2009; Schrock, 2008; Eccles, 2004; Qingfeng, 2005); and geometric design features (Jagannathan, 2005; Johnson, 2005) such as curb radii, lane width, and medians. More information is needed on the effects of cycle length and signal phasing (Leading Pedestrian Intervals [LPIs], split-phasing, lead/lag turn phasing, etc.) on pedestrian behavior and potential guidance for helping to address pedestrian safety issues at signalized intersections. Furthermore, while walking speed studies have demonstrated the benefits of going to a 3.5 ft/s walking speed for setting pedestrian clearance intervals, the potential problems associated with this change are not understood as clearly (e.g., increase traffic congestion, red-light-running, conflicting pedestrian-vehicle movements, increased cycle length, etc.). A national study may help engineers understand these potential issues.
Pedestrian safety at midblock locations is another major area of concern that has begun to receive more attention, primarily with respect to problem identification (Sandt, 2006); signs (Ellis, 2007); signals and beacons (Turner, 2006; Fitzpatrick, 2009; Van Houten, 2007; Shurbutt, 2008); in-pavement flashing lights (Boyce, 2002; Hakkert, 2002; Huang, 2000; Rousseau, 2004; Nambisan, 2006); and geometric design features such as medians (Bowman, 1994). However, more research is needed to help agencies develop a more comprehensive approach to addressing this problem. Research on the ideal spacing of crossings and the locations of crossings based on site-specific characteristics (including block length, location of pedestrian generators, pedestrian and vehicle volumes, other pedestrian facilities, etc) would be of vital interest to roadway agencies.
Pedestrian safety outcomes as related to pedestrian-supportive policies is a topic not well covered in the U.S. While the effectiveness of individual treatments and statewide laws has received some coverage, policies related to pedestrian safety such as Complete Streets policies, context sensitive solutions, growth management and TDM policies, crosswalk marking policies, sidewalk improvement and maintenance policies, and others have received almost no attention. One study (Lord, 2003) looked at the effectiveness of Right-Turn-On-Red policies, but there have been several European studies examining different policies in relation to pedestrian safety (Muhlrad, 2007; Macbeth, 2005). Policies are one low-cost approach to prioritizing pedestrian safety and encouraging system-wide pedestrian safety improvements, so more information is needed on what policies are most effective in achieving pedestrian safety outcomes. By conducting case studies of effective policies, researchers can provide examples for implementation across the United States.
Some groundwork has been laid in identifying crash reduction factors—the percentage of reduction in a certain crash type (e.g., pedestrian crashes) that is expected due to implementing a given countermeasure — for various infrastructure improvements (FHWA, 2008; Murphy, 2007; TRB, 2005; Harwood, 2007; Harkey, 2008). A summary of the best known CRFs related to pedestrians is given in a publication “Toolbox of Countermeasures and their Potential Effectiveness for Pedestrian Crashes” (FHWA, 2008) that can be found online at http://www.walkinginfo.org/training/pbic/references.cfm. The study is based on a detailed review of safety research related on various engineering treatments for pedestrians from the U.S. and abroad. Tables of CRFs are given for several categories of countermeasures, including those related to signalization, geometric design, as well as a category of signs, markings, and operational measures. For example, signal-related countermeasures for which CRFs are given in that document include:
Geometric improvements for which CRFs are given include:
The table of CRFs for the signs, markings and operational improvements include the following countermeasures:
It is important to note that even though there appear to be some known effectiveness information for all of the countermeasures listed above (with some degree of confidence), additional information is needed. Clearly, for most of the countermeasures listed above, the CRFs provided are the result of one or two studies in which a single estimate of the CRF is given based on the study analysis, sometimes the result of data analysis from a limited number of sites and/or from a single jurisdiction. Furthermore, it is probably not safe to assume that a given treatment is equally effective in all areas of the U.S., and also for all types of site characteristics. For example, a treatment like countdown signals may not result in the exact same crash effects when installed at highly urbanized intersections in San Francisco (with high pedestrian volumes) as they would at a high-speed suburban intersection (with low pedestrian activity) in Kansas or Texas. Also, the impact of driver speed (or posted speed limits reflecting actual speeds) on pedestrian safety countermeasure effectiveness is not well documented. Some countermeasures that work well under relatively low-speed conditions (25 mi/h, 30 mi/h or 35 mi/h), may work less well under higher speed conditions (40 mi/h and 45 mi/h). These levels of effectiveness could be calibrated for different driver speed levels. Further research would certainly be beneficial for many of these treatments to better understand conditions under which they are more or less effective, so such information can then be compiled and transmitted to practitioners through training, guides, Web sites, and/or case studies.
Based on a review of the CRFs for countermeasures listed above, one may also identify several countermeasures for which reliable CRF data are not currently known. Notable examples of missing CRFs includes treatments such as pork-chop islands at right-turn slip lanes, intersection turning radii, various types of signs and markings at unsignalized pedestrian crossings (e.g., “Yield to Pedestrian” signs in the street, rectangular rapid flash beacons at unsignalized crossings, HAWK signals, etc.), different types of lighting on various roadway types and speeds, certain traffic calming measures, and many others. As previously mentioned, one critical question for practitioners relates to the safety effectiveness of countermeasures that can be installed at midblock locations and at higher-speed, high-volume multi-lane roads, particularly near bus stop locations.
Accessibility issues of pedestrians with visual and mobility impairments has received some coverage in recent years (Schroeder, 2006; Axelson, 1999; Kirschbaum, 2001; Harkey, 2007; Bentzen, 2006; Wall, 2005b; Wall, 2005), many focusing on Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) and best practices for accommodating pedestrians with visual disabilities at various intersections. More research is needed on APS devices, specifically the impacts and benefits for non-disability users, guidance on maintenance audits and protocol, as well as guidance on where APS devices are most beneficial and should be prioritized, or where fixed-time operation should be used. Additionally, there is a need to synthesize best practices, based on existing research, for accommodating pedestrians with disabilities, especially at intersections, grade-separated crossings, in areas with hilly terrain, and in roadway environments where quiet vehicles are a concern.
Understanding of pedestrian safety concerns and best practices related to transit access is limited. While there are toolkits that can be used to access conditions at bus stops (ProjectACTION), only a few studies and guides (Pecheux, 2008; Nabors, 2008) have provided guidance on locating bus stops and improving access to transit for pedestrians. Some states have developed their own guidelines (Accessing Transit), but more comprehensive research-based information is needed, particularly with respect to streetcars and light-rail service, as these transit options become more available in communities across the U.S. and more heavily used.
Lighting and pedestrian visibility/conspicuity is one topic of pedestrian safety that has had considerable coverage in recent years (Siddliqui, 2006; Spainhour, 2006; Langham, 2003; Kwan, 2004; Gibbons, 2008; Gibbons, 2006; Sullivan, 2008; Wilken, 2001; Tyrrell, 2004; and Kwan, 2006). Thus, lighting may be one area where there is a need to translate the existing research into more user-friendly guides and work to disseminate the existing information. While there has been a considerable amount of research on some aspects of lighting, there could be value in conducting some future research on the effectiveness of various lighting types under different real-world roadway conditions. Additionally, there is a growing interest in the use of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting in communities, both as a way to reduce electricity costs and because of the improved color rendering compared to traditional lighting fixtures. Improved color rendering allows motorists to better detect pedestrians using more sensitive central cone vision, and this sensitivity allows for quicker processing of visual information, which can translate to faster reaction times (Plainis, 2005; Plainis, 2006). More research is needed to better understand the promise of LED lighting in reducing pedestrian crashes. Since lighting is a key factor in nighttime crashes (many of which also involve alcohol), and is also an important consideration for older drivers and pedestrians, it will be important to continue to disseminate best practices on countermeasures related to lighting and to research emerging technologies in lighting, such as LEDs, as they become more widely applied.
Level of Service (LOS) (and Quality and Safety) concepts have been extensively researched in recent years (Hummer, 2006; Highway Safety Manual, 2000; Guttenplan, 2008; Landis, 2001; Chu, 2001; Petritsch, 2006; Petritsch, 2005; Sisiopiku, 2006; Corbin, 2008) and models are available for sidewalks, intersections, and shared-use paths. Similarly, there are a number of different approaches to measuring the broader concept of “walkability” for neighborhoods and transit-oriented developments (Leslie, 2007; Schlossberg, 2004; Clifton, 2007). However, most of the LOS tools and models developed have not taken full consideration of pedestrians with disabilities or people with limited mobility. Given the existing body of work, a comprehensive resource/guide on LOS tools and methods is needed, as well as more research related to LOS and people with disabilities.
Pedestrian walking speed is another topic that has been well-covered by recent research efforts (Gates, 2006; Knoblough, 1996; Montufar, 2007; Stollof, 2007), and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) was recently modified with new guidance on pedestrian walking speed. However, many communities are now struggling with implementing new signal timing plans based on the changes in walking speed and are in need of guidance. Also, there is concern that going to a slower walking speed may increase pedestrian violations by increasing pedestrian wait times (Van Houten, 2007) or lead to other transportation consequences. There is a need to better understand the implications of changes in pedestrian signal timing. Case studies or other examples of how communities are successfully implementing the new MUTCD pedestrian walking speed criteria in their signal cycles, and the challenges that they faced or addressed through the process, are needed.
Large Commercial Vehicles (Trucks and Buses) are of particular concern in terms of pedestrian safety. While some research has been completed regarding pedestrians and transit, more research is needed to determine better strategies for increasing safety around trucks and buses, especially in urban areas.
Only a few studies were found related to pedestrian simulation (Lassarree, 2007), pedestrian detection and ITS treatments (Huang, 2008; Lovette, 2007); and trails and shared-use paths (Mellifant, 2006). However, these topics may not be among the highest priority issues in terms of safety, or the benefit of such studies may be limited to a smaller group of pedestrians.
The overprovision of parking facilities often creates unhealthy and unsafe public environments for pedestrians, while also reducing the livability of an urban space and undermining the desirability of pedestrian movement in the space. In addition, parking lots can also become dangerous environments for pedestrians. Research is needed to quantify some of the adverse effects of providing too much parking in relation to pedestrian safety and the implications on policy and practice in the design of towns and cities.
A great deal of research has been conducted relating to the safety effects of pedestrian and automobile interactions, while only some research has been conducted on the relationship between pedestrian safety and facility maintenance. More research is needed to establish best practices for facility maintenance and to determine cost effective measures for maintaining safe pedestrian facilities.
In many cases, there are research needs that go beyond the mission and scope of FHWA, but are of vital concern for pedestrian safety. For all research that is more appropriately funded by other organizations, it is recommended that FHWA coordinate with those organizations to discuss pedestrian safety topics and how they can be addressed through collaborative, cross-cutting research and how funded research can incorporate issues that are of interest to FHWA. The following is a discussion of pedestrian safety research topics that overlap with FHWA’s mission but would need to be addressed through partnerships with other agencies.
A number of studies in the past five years have examined issues related to child pedestrian crashes, walking behaviors, and safety-related interventions (Nance, 2004; Leden, 2006; Shinar, 2007; Clifton, 2007; Barton, 2007; McDonald, 2007; McMillan, 2006; Zeedyk, 2003; Christie, 2007; Boarnet, 2005; Rosenbloom, 2008). Though not an official plan of action or funding, the National Strategies for Advancing Child Pedestrian Safety (2001) provided a cross-disciplinary examination of current issues and needs in improving child pedestrian safety. Also, the 2006 Safe Routes to School legislation provided ample funding to support research surrounding child pedestrians and school-related travel, so it is anticipated that much new information will be produced in the coming years. While child-related crashes continue to be a concern nationwide, there appears to be a number of research-related initiatives already focused on this topic, so heavy investment in child-specific research is not necessary from the FHWA Office of Safety. However, school siting and design and its impact on transportation safety is within the realm of FHWA’s mission and is a subject not exhaustively researched to date; this and other school-related pedestrian safety issues should be discussed with other stakeholders.
Several studies have examined issues surrounding knowledge and compliance of pedestrian laws (Chu, 2003; Spainhour, 2006; Herbert, 2004; Kim, 2008; Kim, 2008a; Hatfield, 2007; Van Houten, 2004; Mitman, 2007). Currently, NHTSA’s Office of Behavioral Safety Research is preparing a Five-Year Strategic Behavioral Research Plan for 2010-2014 with various focus topics. Laws and compliance are discussed within the pedestrian safety section. While this topic is considered to be more under the purview of NHTSA, law-related safety research is of interest to pedestrian safety. Specifically, work is needed to improve crash data collection by law officers and to train officers to better collect data, and to understand and enforce pedestrian laws. While not specific to pedestrians and pedestrian safety, the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) prepared a survey of transportation engineers to better understand the deficiencies in collision reporting and to establish the data needs of transportation professionals (ITE, 2008). The results indicate a need for greater data accuracy and reporting, which is most easily remedied by providing better data entry training for police officers.
Only a few studies examined alcohol as a factor in pedestrian crashes (Spainhour, 2006; Herbert, 2004; Ryb, 2007). However, this topic is considered to be more under the purview of NHTSA and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NHTSA’s Behavioral Research Plan also covers alcohol/drug impaired driving and pedestrian safety as two of the primary focus issues. While alcohol-related safety research is not a key focus area for FHWA, effort should be made to support and be involved in alcohol research funded by other agencies that may relate to pedestrian safety.
A number of pedestrian education evaluations have been conducted (Glang, 2005; Berry, 2006; Batu, 2004; Mitman, 2007; Harre, 2004; Zegeer, 2008a; Harre, 2004). This topic is considered to be more under the purview of NHTSA, and touched upon in NHSTA’s Behavioral Study Plan, but collaboration in education research and product dissemination is encouraged.
As pedestrian safety problems have been recently identified in relation to driver (and/or pedestrian) distractions due to cell phones, text messaging, and other sources there may be value in conducting research to better quantify the increased dangers to pedestrians and to explore potential roadway and traffic control implications. Although the primary intervention to address this concern is likely related to education and enforcement of laws banning cell phone use or texting (which have been passed in several states), this topic could be of growing interest to FHWA as cell phone and other technology use continues to grow.
Another emerging topic is the issue of quiet cars (such as hybrids), which recent studies have found to pose more safety risks to pedestrians than conventional cars due to the fact that they are harder for pedestrians to hear and detect (http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2009/11/620001194/1). As the percentage of quiet vehicles in the car fleet grows, and as the U.S. population continues to age and experience more cases of hearing and vision loss, this issue will likely become more pressing over time as well as be compounded by technological advances being made in developing “quiet” roads and pavements. FHWA should continue to explore this issue along with NHTSA and other stakeholders.
A review of the current technology transfer activities reveals that while printed guides and other more traditional transfer activities remain prevalent, agencies are relying more and more upon interactive Web-based training, software, and Web guides as those technologies have grown. The literature review covers product delivery and technology transfer activities in the following categories:
Guides are available for the application of pedestrian safety treatments, countermeasures, and best practices. The AASHTO guide for the development of pedestrian facilities and the PEDSAFE countermeasure selection system are two of the technical guides represented in the current literature, and two of the more comprehensive. Other national level guides allow agencies to conduct evaluations of roadways and pedestrian facilities, such as the Road Safety Audit Guidelines and Prompt Lists developed by the Federal Highway Administration. The guidebook How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan explores the development of comprehensive safety programs to address pedestrian safety. Guides are also available for citizens and advocacy groups, as well as health and transit professionals. Local guides primarily address the design requirements of certain municipalities.
A variety of in-person training courses are available, from those focusing on technical knowledge and engineering concepts, to those addressing the needs of citizens and advocates. Recently developed curriculums for university level students allow pedestrian safety training to be made available to young professionals before they enter engineering, planning, and health professions. An emerging strategy to disseminate material and offer training is through Webinars and Web conferences. A number of groups recognize the travel and budget constraints of local agencies, and have begun offering trainings through easily accessible online platforms. Groups such as the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and others offer Webinars on a variety of topics.
Many conferences are held annually to discuss transportation safety and transportation issues, many of which focus on pedestrians. Specifically, the Pro Walk/ProBike conference allows advocates, researchers, and other professionals to share knowledge and best practices related to pedestrian and bicycle safety. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) annual meeting also draws a large number of pedestrian researchers and engineers. International conferences, such as the Walk 21 conference, allow professionals from all over the world to discuss pedestrian safety issues. These conferences are routinely attended by FHWA and NHTSA staff, as well as other professional organizations with an interest in sharing and disseminating research and information.
Newsletters allow organizations to stay in touch with their members and disseminate recent and upcoming research, tools, and training opportunities. Groups, such as the PBIC, APBP, the National Center for Bicycling and Walking (NCBW), and the FHWA, offer newsletters.
Web sites represent another emerging technology that has been utilized to share knowledge, tools, and resources. Some of the more comprehensive Web sites include two national clearinghouses: the PBIC and the National Center for Safe Routes to School. These organizations are intended to serve as comprehensive libraries that cover all resources related to pedestrian safety. The FHWA also offers a variety of tools and resources through its Web sites – the FHWA Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, Office of Safety, and Safety Research: Pedestrians and Bicyclists.
It is recommended that product delivery strategies continue to take advantage of Web-based technologies, specifically through social media. The area of social media has grown at a rapid pace, and certain services (such as Twitter and Facebook) offer the opportunity to reach millions of individuals in an interconnected online network, at an extremely low cost. Pedestrian safety professionals and researchers can utilize these services to assist with technology transfer and product delivery. In addition, listserv emails are a good method for the dissemination of information to interested individuals.
As mentioned in the Methodology section, during the Stakeholder Workshop a discussion was held on “Prioritizing Recommended Research Initiatives and Activities.” This provided a unique opportunity for cooperation between the FTA, FHWA, and NHTSA, which all have an interest in pedestrian safety. During this time, three breakout groups were asked to define their research needs more specifically. Results were compiled for each group, combined with previous recommended research topics from the TRB pedestrian committee, and then presented to the entire group to be ranked (141 research topics in total) based on importance of the issue and feasibility of the research to be conducted and to reduce pedestrian crashes. From this, the 10 most significant research topics or product delivery methods identified during the 2008 workshop, in descending order, were:
Of the topics identified, several of these overlap with gaps identified in the literature, including a need for research to cover issues related to vehicle speed and effective countermeasures (1, 3); best practices in roadway design (5, 10); comprehensive and high-quality CRFs (7); an understanding of safety as related to land use and pedestrian activity (4); more knowledge on pedestrian issues related to transit (9). Topic #2 is currently being addressed by a number of universities, working in collaboration with the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, to share course materials and further develop and disseminate comprehensive and interdisciplinary university materials. In addition, a workshop is planned for the January 2010 TRB Annual Meeting to discuss issues surrounding transportation education in universities as related to pedestrian and bicycle planning and design. Related to the issue of education, Topic #8 seems highly relevant, as a large number of communities clearly lack professionals with training on pedestrian safety issues; thus, education and product delivery efforts should include small communities as a focus for technology transfer. Topic #6, while not identified in the literature review, is of extreme interest to practitioners, as funding is often the primary barrier cited for why more pedestrian safety improvements are not made.
After the stakeholder group ranked all 141 research needs statements, they ranked their first choice in each of the four main categories of the plan framework. The primary choices, generally consistent with the list above, for each section are listed in Table 16.
|Category||Top Research Need|
|Problem Identification and Data
|Developing recommended methodology for exposure methods/counts|
|Managing Safety through Analysis and
|Impact of land use and development patterns on walking and factors|
affecting mode choice, as well as safety
|Development and Evaluation of
|Research on the safety effects of multimodal design to create “complete|
streets,” as well as best practices and training materials related
to complete streets
|Product Delivery and Technology Transfer||Comprehensive and interdisciplinary pedestrian coursework for|
engineering and planning students in universities
The only topic in this list that wasn’t in the top 10 list above was the one on “developing recommended methodology for exposure methods/counts.” This topic is actually soon to be funded by an NCHRP study (08-78), entitled “Estimating Bicycle and Walking for Planning and Project Development,” but additional work in this area is needed (TRB, 2010).
Key Findings from Existing FHWA Product Evaluation
The results of Westat’s product evaluation survey are presented in several sections below. The first section describes characteristics about the respondent sample. The second section reports the findings of familiarity with each product/deployment, recent usage, and types of use for each product/deployment. The third section focuses on respondents’ rated ease of use of the product, its usefulness, and an assessment of the potential impact or positive outcome as a result of using the product/deployment. The fourth section reports summary responses to questions of knowledge gained, important future roles, and sharing for products/deployments based on prior use.
The survey was sent to 2,452 individuals who have ordered products/deployments from FHWA’s Web site and are based in the United States. Of those emailed, 478 completed the survey. Those respondents were asked several questions about race, employment, and education. A majority of the respondents were white (88 percent). Relative to other options, 62 percent worked in cities 100K or larger and 43 percent represented state or local government organizations. Respondent occupations included planners, engineers, consultants, and government employees, among others, but 25 percent of respondents identified themselves most with a category not listed as an option. Additionally, 36 percent had received a Master’s degree.
Figure 6. Percent of Respondents Familiar with Product/Deployment.
The second product/deployment question focused on recent usage: “Have you used _______ in the last three years?” The response format was Yes/No (Figure 7). The Walkability Checklist was the most commonly used product in the last three years, with almost a third of respondents having used it (31 percent). Several products were used by a small proportion of respondents: Pedestrian and Bicyclist University Course (6 percent), Pedestrian Safety Campaign (6 percent), Pedestrian Safety Guide for Transit Agencies (6 percent), and Pedestrian and Bicyclist Intersection Safety Indices (7 percent). Again, the lack of recent use could be attributed to the specific target audience of these products. Overall, in most cases only approximately half of respondents who claimed familiarity with a product actually used it in the last three years. Types of Use can be found in Appendix II.
Figure 7. Percentage of Respondents Who Used Product/Deployment in Last Three Years.
For each product, respondents were asked “How easy was ________ to use?” The response format was a rating scale that ranged from 1-9, with one being “extremely difficult to use” and nine being “extremely easy to use.” The mean ratings (Figure 8) are based only on the respondents who used the product/deployment in the last three years (“recent users”). The three products/deployments that recent users rated as the easiest to use were (mean rating in parenthesis): Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Materials for Hispanic Audiences (7.6), Walkability Checklist (7.6), and Bicycle Safer Journey (7.5). In contrast, two products/deployments were rated the lowest in ease-of-use: Bicycle Compatibility Index (5.8) and Pedestrian and Bicycle Intersection Safety Indices (6.0). Overall, all products/deployments were rated above the scale midpoint (5) for ease-of-use.
Note: 1 = Extremely difficult to use, 9 = Extremely easy to use
Figure 8. Average Reported Score for Ease of Use of Product/Deployment.
For each product, respondents were asked “How useful was ________ in helping you to carry out your work?” The response format was a rating scale that ranged from 1-9, with one being “extremely unuseful” and nine being “extremely useful.” The mean ratings (Figure 9) are based only on the respondents who used the product/deployment in the last 3 years (“recent users”). The two products/deployments that recent users rated as the most useful (mean rating in parenthesis): Pedestrian and Bicyclist University Course (7.3) and Walkability Checklist (7.2). In contrast, three products/deployments were rated lowest in usefulness: Pedestrian and Bicycle Intersection Safety Indices (5.8), Ped/Bike Crash Analysis Tool (6.1), and Bicycle Compatibility Index (6.2). Overall, all products/deployments were rated above the midpoint (5) for ease-of-use.
Note: 1 = Extremely unuseful, 9 = Extremely useful
Figure 9. Average Usefulness Score for Recently Used Products/Deployments.
For each product, respondents were asked “How much of an impact did ________ have on the way you carried out your work?” The response format was a rating scale that ranged from 1-9, with one being “extremely weak impact” and nine being “extremely strong impact.” The mean ratings (Figure 10) are based only on the respondents who used the product/deployment in the last three years (“recent users”). The three products/deployments rated as having the most impact (mean rating in parenthesis): Safety Effects of Marked vs. Unmarked Crosswalks at Uncontrolled Locations (6.7), Pedestrian and Bicyclist University Course (6.5), and How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (6.4). In contrast, three products/deployments were rated lowest in impact: Bicycle Safer Journey (5.1), Ped/Bike Crash Analysis Tool, and Bicycle Compatibility Index (5.4).
Note: 1 = Extremely weak impact, 9 = Extremely strong impact
Figure 10. Average Safety Impact Ranking as Perceived by Recent Users of Products/Deployments.
For each product, respondents were asked “Did the _______ give you knowledge that contributed to a reduction of crashes, injuries, and/or fatalities in your state/locality?” The response format was Yes/No. The percentages are not based on all respondents, but only on the respondents who used the product/deployment in the last three years (“recent users”), which was relatively small subset for many products (Figure 11). The three products/deployments that the most recent users felt gave them knowledge to help reduce crashes/injuries/fatalities were: Pedestrian Road Safety Audit Guidelines and Prompt Lists (65 percent), How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (64 percent), and Ped/Bike Crash Analysis Tool (64 percent). In contrast, the three products/deployments with the fewest percentages of recent users affirming useful knowledge in reducing crashes/fatalities/injuries were: Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Materials for Hispanic Audiences (37 percent), Pedestrian Safety Guide for Transit Agencies (40 percent), and Pedestrian Forum Newsletter (43 percent).
Figure 11. Percent of Recent Users Who Felt the Product/Deployment Gave them Helpful Knowledge.
For each product, respondents were asked “Will the _______ play an important role in reducing crashes, injuries, and/or fatalities in the FUTURE?” The response format was Yes/No (Figure 12). The percentages displayed are not based on all respondents, but only on the respondents who used the product/deployment in the last three years (“recent users”), which was relatively small subset for many products. The three products/deployments that the most recent users felt would play an important future role in reducing crashes/injuries/fatalities were: Pedsafe: Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System (88 percent), How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (84 percent), Resident's Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities (84 percent). In contrast, the three products/deployments with the fewest percentages of recent users affirming an important future role in reducing crashes/fatalities/injuries were: Pedestrian Forum Newsletter (66 percent), Pedestrian Safety Guide for Transit Agencies (67 percent), and Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Materials for Hispanic Audiences (68 percent). Overall, Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Materials for Hispanic Audiences, Pedestrian Safety Guide for Transit Agencies, and the Pedestrian Forum Newsletter had the lowest percentages of recent users that felt those products/deployments had useful information and would play an important role in reducing crashes/injuries/fatalities.
Figure 12. Percent of Recent Users Who Felt Product/Deployment Will Play Important Future Role.
A large proportion of respondents shared products/deployments with others (69 percent, or 328 respondents). The percentages below are from the participants who reported sharing products/deployments (Figure 13). Note that participants were able to select more than one response, so totals will not add to 100. Respondents who reported sharing products/deployments chose to share them with: co-workers at their place of employment (66 percent), other professionals in their field (64 percent), and 30 percent shared with a variety of other people (with large portions going to students, parents, education professionals, activists, customers, and clients).
Figure 13. Percent of Respondents Who Shared Product/Deployment.
Respondents preferred to receive their information via e-mail (77 percent), followed by the Web site (68 percent), postal mail (43 percent), Webconference/Webinar (31 percent), conference (19 percent), RSS (6 percent), and other (4 percent). Please note that participants were able to select more than one option, so these percentages do not total 100.
A subset of participants who volunteered for a short follow-up telephone interview was contacted following completion of the Web survey. Up to five participants were interviewed about each product/deployment (and each person was interviewed about one product). In addition to these telephone interviews, Web survey participants were able to leave additional comments about each product during the Web survey. A summary of representative comments derived from these two sources can be found in Appendix II.
Overall, in most cases only about half of respondents who claimed familiarity with a product actually used it in the last three years. Even among transportation professionals who had previously ordered FHWA materials, there appeared to be a widespread lack of familiarity with the many FHWA products available for use. Additional marketing and distribution of these materials is needed. The Pedestrian and Bicyclist University Course and Pedestrian Safety Guides for Transit Agencies, however, are targeted at smaller audiences, which may account for the lack of knowledge about or use of these products among survey respondents.
In terms of ease of use, the products/deployments that recent users rated as the easiest to use were those geared for widespread use by a more general audience, while the most difficult to use products tended to be more technical in nature and require significant data inputs. There appears to be a need for more products aimed at a general audience that can be easily used by all, or more training and support for practitioners wanting to use the more technical tools.
The products/deployments rated as having the most impact on improving pedestrian safety tended to be the products that have been the most heavily marketed and supported by programmatic efforts (such as Webinars, monthly conference calls, listservs, workshops, and even funding to use and apply the information) to engage and train transportation professionals on the use of these products. For example, the How To Guide has been extensively marketed, additional content has been added, and courses were developed to supplement the guide and teach the materials to focus states throughout the U.S. over the past several years. For the Resident’s Guide and the Road Safety Audit products, NHTSA and/or FHWA has provided funding for communities to pilot test the guides and also developed presentations and courses to help professionals and communities use the materials. More effort to systematically support the use of key products and research tools appears necessary in order for the projects to have an impact on pedestrian safety.
In relation to product delivery, respondents preferred to receive their information through web-based formats, including e-mail (77 percent), Web site (68 percent), and Webconference/Webinar (31 percent). Only 19 percent of respondents preferred receiving information through conferences, as travel budgets to attend such events are increasingly shrinking. It is recommended that product delivery strategies continue to take advantage of Web-based technologies, and to look more into opportunities for using social media, which is growing at a rapid pace and offers a low-cost option for reaching millions of individuals in an interconnected online network. This recommendation is consistent with the discussion in the Technology Transfer section of the literature review.
Several key audiences were identified as the potential users and benefactors of the above research projects and technology transfer activities:
Several methods and tactics were identified for conducting technology transfer:
The appropriateness of the information dissemination method or program will depend on the subject matter as well as the intended audience.
Nationwide, several “focus areas” may be good opportunities to distribute information and focus technology deployment. These include the geographic locations identified in the analysis of current and predicted pedestrian safety issues, including:
A few elements may have affected the results of this project. First, lack of thorough pedestrian exposure data limited the level of exploration possible of high risk locations and populations across the U.S. Thus, the potential of the recommended research and projects to improve pedestrian safety cannot be accurately predicted or evaluated. Additionally, much of the recommended research was based on the expert opinion of the project team, as influenced by the available research, results of the pedestrian crash analysis, and input from the stakeholder groups. While all effort was made to establish a balanced and representative cross-section of pedestrian safety experts from across the U.S., the opinions obtained are nevertheless subjective and limited to the personal experiences and knowledge of those experts and may not be informed by or consistent with the full body of scientific evidence available.
It is recommended that the FHWA Office of Safety and the Turner Fairbank Pedestrian and Bicyclist Research and Development Program develop and implement a Strategic Plan that is informed by the findings in this report. This plan should be developed in collaboration with the stakeholders who have contributed to the findings in this report, as well as other agencies with an interest in pedestrian safety including the FTA and NHTSA. In implementing the Plan, it is recommended that the Offices continue collaboration and communication with other FHWA offices, programs, and other DOT agencies to coordinate and fund research topics with the highest potential to improve pedestrian safety nationwide.
Further, it is recommended that the Offices continue outreach to stakeholders, to obtain feedback on both the implementation and the evaluation of the Strategic Plan over time, and to respond to changes over time. The project team recommends yearly meetings of the technical advisory group and the stakeholder panel, among others, to assess the progress of the Strategic Plan implementation. In addition, a larger outreach effort could be conducted to survey the attitudes, perceptions, and statements of need from a broader group of pedestrian safety stakeholders, researchers, and other interest groups.
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