How Crosswalk Design Affects Pedestrian Safety: Findings from Recent Research

Recent research indicates that crosswalk and intersection design significantly impact pedestrian safety. Poor crossing designs can increase the risk of pedestrian accidents.

However, transportation officials have begun implementing new design features that may improve pedestrian safety at crosswalks and intersections.

Why Pedestrian Crashes Happen and Risk Trends

Unfortunately, pedestrian accident rates in the United States have increased in recent years. According to the Governors Highway Safety Administration, over 7,342 pedestrian fatalities occurred in one recent year, accounting for 17 percent of all traffic fatalities. This is a 13 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities from the previous year and the most significant number of pedestrian fatalities nationwide in over 40 years.

Pedestrian crashes usually occur due to safety issues at intersections and motorist negligence. Some of the most critical safety issues contributing to pedestrian crashes include conflicts at crossing locations, insufficient pedestrian separation from traffic, excessive speed limits, and inadequate pedestrian visibility.

Examples of driver negligence that cause pedestrian accidents include:

Research on Crosswalk Design

Traffic safety experts have identified improved intersection and crosswalk design features that may help reduce pedestrian accident rates. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has found that uncontrolled intersections, or intersections without traffic lights and signs, have higher rates of pedestrian accidents. The FHWA recommends various countermeasures that states and localities can implement at intersections and road crossings to improve pedestrian safety.

These countermeasures include:

  • High visibility crosswalk markings
  • Restrictions to street parking near a crosswalk or intersection
  • Improved lighting, especially at night
  • Signage warning drivers of an upcoming intersection or crosswalk and advising them to stop at a stop line or yield to pedestrians
  • In-street pedestrian signs
  • Curb extensions that improve sight distance between drivers and pedestrians
  • Raised crosswalks, which allow pedestrians to cross at a constant grade and force drivers to slow down as they approach the crosswalk
  • Pedestrian refuge islands at wider intersections
  • Pedestrian hybrid beacons or rapid-flashing beacons
  • “Road diets” that reconfigure road lanes to reduce the width of the road and shorten pedestrian crossings

Examples of NYC Pedestrian Safety Improvements in Recent Years

In New York City, the transportation department has undertaken various projects to improve pedestrian safety at intersections. Many projects involve renovations to intersections to install features that help calm vehicular traffic, such as plastic bollards, rubber speed bumps, and curb extensions. Other improvements include relocating stop lines and crosswalks and painting pedestrian spaces.

Various intersections will also receive new left-turn lanes or shortened pedestrian crossings. Updated traffic signals and traffic control signage at specific crosswalks prioritize pedestrians. The city has installed bus boarding islands at various bus stops and designated dedicated bus lanes on various streets.

Contact a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today

If you’ve been hurt in a pedestrian accident, turn to a pedestrian accident lawyer in NYC from David Resnick & Associates. We can help you pursue compensation and accountability from the driver who hit you. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.

Author: David Resnick

Founder of David Resnick & Associates, P.C., a New York personal injury law firm in charge of providing exceptional and personal service to each of our clients in various areas including car accidents, slip and fall, wrongful death, construction accidents, and premises liability. David Resnick founded the firm in 1998 after working in large law firms where he saw a need for greater client communication and more personal care.

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