Pedestrian Safety and Crosswalk Design

Every year, thousands of lives are lost while attempting to cross roads in the U.S., making pedestrian safety an ongoing concern in cities and towns of all sizes. Recent news reports have been shedding light on crosswalk design and construction, as local officials and citizens alike strive to create safer roadways.

As we’ve seen in recent months, several news outlets have covered projects aimed at improving pedestrian safety. From decorative pavers in Slidell, Louisiana, to infrastructure changes proposed in Phoenix, and themed crosswalks painted in towns across the nation for Pride month, these stories draw attention to the dangers faced by pedestrians and vehicles sharing the same roads.

The Rising Rate of Pedestrian Fatalities:

The alarming statistics speak for themselves. The Governors Highway Safety Association estimates that in 2022, at least 7,508 pedestrians lost their lives in crashes on U.S. roadways, and this number is only increasing. The share of pedestrian deaths as a percentage of all traffic fatalities rose from 13.0% in 2010 to 17.6% in 2021, as reported by the association’s latest preliminary pedestrian safety report.

Furthermore, beyond the fatalities, over 47,000 hospitalizations occur each year due to pedestrian crash injuries, revealing the extent of this ongoing issue.

Hotspots for Pedestrian Deaths:

Research indicates that certain road corridors pose a higher risk for deadly pedestrian-vehicle crashes. These hotspots are more likely to be near commercial zones, have higher speed limits, and experience heavy traffic volumes. Identifying these areas is crucial for implementing targeted safety measures.

Striving for Inclusive Safety:

A concerning trend emerges from recent research, highlighting that Black and Hispanic pedestrians face a higher risk of being killed by vehicles compared to their white or Asian/Pacific Islander counterparts. Additionally, the current traffic light timings often cater to individuals without physical disabilities under the age of 65, which may create dangerous situations for older pedestrians and people with disabilities.

The Need for Better Crosswalk Design:

Recent research offers valuable insights into factors that contribute to pedestrian-vehicle crashes. Factors such as heavy foot and vehicle traffic, long crossing distances, and intersections allowing right-on-red turns are identified as elements that worsen pedestrian safety.

Uncontrolled crosswalks without traffic signals or stop signs often experience higher pedestrian crash rates due to inadequate crossing accommodations.

Promising Safety Measures:

Improving crosswalk design holds significant potential in enhancing pedestrian safety. Studies show that well-lit crosswalks with nearby signage alerting drivers to their presence are most effective. Additionally, raised medians, three-way intersections, and tree-lined streets are infrastructure improvements that can benefit older pedestrians.

Pedestrian safety is a perpetual policy issue that demands immediate attention. Collaboration between local officials, transportation agencies, and citizens is key to implementing effective safety measures. As we look to the future of pedestrian safety, we must remain proactive in adapting to changing traffic dynamics, embracing technology responsibly, and promoting inclusivity in road design.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, OnderLaw is here to help. Contact our team of expert attorneys today for your free, no-obligation consultation.