Special signs and pavement markings improve pedestrian safety

Retting, Richard A. / Van Houten, Ron / Malenfant, J.E. Louis / Van Houten, Joy / Farmer, Charles M.
ITE Journal Master File
December 1996

Motor vehicle accidents cause about 100,000 injuries to pedestrians each year and many of the injuries occur at intersections. Although intersections are often equipped with traffic signals and crosswalk markings to protect pedestrians from injury, vehicle-pedestrian collisions still occur. Researchers have found that pedestrian injuries that occur at intersections are particularly high in urban areas. Turning vehicles are often the primary danger to pedestrians. Only limited benefits have been produced from conventional intersection safety devices and motorist prompts. Specific prompts, though, have been shown to increase pedestrian awareness and change pedestrian behavior. This article presents results of an experiment in which special signs and pavement markings were used to prompt pedestrians to look for turning vehicles. Investigators found that painted or sign prompts alone increased the percentage of pedestrians looking for turning vehicles. Conflicts were nearly eliminated by the prompting interventions; however, improvements in the percentage of pedestrians checking for threats were not as dramatic. Older adults would likely benefit the most from the prompting strategies.