Stopping pedestrian accidents presents a growing challenge. Safety officials, schools, drivers and pedestrians themselves face the challenge in different ways.
Medford, Massachusetts school officials accept the challenge by painting 3D crosswalks that trick the eye into thinking the crosswalk actually stands up above the pavement.
After one elementary school student suffered a near-miss with a car two other students started thinking. They came up with the idea of a crosswalk painted to appear 3D to oncoming drivers. The idea creates an optical illusion with a goal of making drivers slow down .
A Boston artist came in and painted the first of three crosswalks at Medford’s Brooks Elementary School.
Despite the best efforts of traffic safety officials, pedestrian deaths increased in 2018. That year saw the highest level of pedestrian deaths – 6,227 – in almost 30 years. The numbers come from a study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration. Such findings, officials believe, show an alarming rise trend of increasing pedestrian deaths.
We looked at the pedestrian death numbers in a previous blog article.
Almost half of the pedestrian deaths in that year – 46% – happened in only five states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas. The State of New Hampshire came in with the lowest rate of pedestrian deaths per resident. Researchers concluded that several factors hold the key to rising pedestrian danger. Those factors include more light trucks and SUVs on the road, increased population in cities – where walking is more common – and smart phone distraction.,
“Unfortunately, walking has become increasingly risky in recent years, whether walking the dog, traveling to work or school. Exercising or simply taking a stroll”
Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State-Governors Highway Safety Association
What do you do to stop the rise in pedestrian accidents?
Better marking of pedestrian crosswalks and flashing warning lights offer increased visibility. Derry, New Hampshire is one of many municipalities with flashing lights designed to alert drivers when a pedestrian activates the system. Driven by solar power, the lights exist in several areas including the center of town.
Another approach focuses on safety systems in newer cars. One digital safety system spots pedestrians and applies a vehicle’s brakes automatically. If it works, it prevents pedestrian collisions completely or at the very least reduces the severity of others. Another option comes in improved lighting systems so that drivers can see better and have more time to react.
Urban traffic designers like features known as safety islands. Built into the middle of busy streets, safety islands, give pedestrians safe stopping points while crossing. They limit the pedestrian’s exposure to vehicle traffic, especially on large streets with multiple lanes. Pedestrians unable to walk safely across all the lanes simply stop at the island and then wait for traffic to clear. Traffic engineers and others claim safety islands reduce pedestrian accidents by around 56 percent.
Stopping Pedestrian Accidents – Options
Crash avoidance features in cars, cross walk design changes and other ideas represent some ways to reduce to reduce pedestrian accidents. Almost everyone walks. Whether it’s a short walk to the car, a cross-town trek or a bike ride, it seems more and more non-motorists use city streets and less urban roadways. So, kicking up pedestrian safety presents a key challenge.
Pedestrian accidents now make up a growing number of all traffic deaths. Other approaches outside what we’ve looked at here include more safety education and increased law enforcement.
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Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, Governor’s Highway Safety Association, 2018 Preliminary Data.
Traffic Safety Facts, 2017 Data, NHTSA, March, 2019