6,590. That’s how many pedestrians in 2019 were killed in traffic accidents, as captured in the most recent GHSA study. That’s an average of 18 people each day becoming a victim to what should have been a preventable tragedy.
That number should be zero.
Over the last decade, pedestrian fatality has spiked to a 53% increase over other traffic-related deaths. And this number doesn’t include close-call incidents or accidents resulting in minor injuries—all of which could have been prevented with the right pedestrian safety precautions in place.
We can’t blame a lack of technology. In fact, many transportation solutions offer affordable, innovative products designed to draw awareness to pedestrian safety and current traffic conditions.
Is your community equipped to keep your pedestrians safe?
Here are seven ways you can improve your community’s pedestrian safety measures so that your people are protected during every hour of the day.
Leverage Left-Turn Safety Measures
Drivers wanting to turn left focus on oncoming traffic, gauging the speed of approaching vehicles to decide if and when to turn. Often drivers forget to check—both day and night—for pedestrians crossing the road before making that left turn. This poses a serious threat to pedestrian safety, especially if pedestrians don’t have an escape from an oncoming vehicle. The green light method for left turns may be the most efficient, but it does not consider the safety of both drivers and pedestrians.
Structure intersection traffic flow in your community so that the road is safe for both left-turn drivers and pedestrians. Adding a traffic signal with a green arrow provides drivers an opportunity to turn left when pedestrians are not allowed to cross the road. Install lane control signs featuring high-intensity LEDs for left-turn drivers so that motorists only proceed on the green arrow.
Provide Pedestrians a Walking Start
You can also increase pedestrian safety by allowing pedestrians and drivers fewer opportunities to interact on the road. Program all traffic and pedestrian crossing signals to allow a short interval for pedestrians to start crossing first before a green light is activated for drivers. Install No Turn on Red signs in high-traffic areas and near school zones to decrease the chance of drivers turning into crosswalks when still occupied by pedestrians.
Install More Reflective Signs
Traffic signs of the past are made with out-of-date sheeting not designed with pedestrian safety in mind. These dated signs can be hard to read even in daylight, especially when the sun reflects upon its surface at an intense angle. And if a driver can’t see the sign, they won’t obey its warning—putting people at risk in pedestrian-designated areas.
Fortunately, signage today features high intensity prismatic reflective sheeting that’s durable and compatible with pressure-sensitive adhesive. This material reflects more available light to intensify its visibility for both drivers and pedestrians at night while still being easy on the eyes during the day. These signs can be seen hundreds of feet away, be it daytime, nighttime, twilight or inclement weather. This type of reflective signage upholds recommended safety requirements for all types of signs and are highly encouraged in areas where foot traffic is common.
Encourage Drivers to Slow Down
Accidents involving pedestrians often occur in areas where crosswalks are not present. This means that drivers need to be more vigilant in surveying road conditions, even when foot traffic shouldn’t be present. However, many drivers tend to cruise at higher speeds than posted, leading to slower reaction times when encountering unexpected pedestrians in the road.
Mounting radar speed signs where drivers are approaching vulnerable areas of your community, such as school zones and work zones, motivates drivers to reduce speed and be more cautious. These high intensity LED speed signs can be seen more than 1,200 feet away at all times of the day, providing an ample amount of time for drivers to slow down. These signs can also be programmed to flash violator alerts, such as Slow Down, for further enforcement.
Swap Static Signs for Flashing LED Signs
No matter how reflective the signage, some areas of traffic require more pedestrian safety precautions. These could be areas with low visibility in fog or heavy rain, where the road takes a sharp turn or in heavy foot traffic areas like school zones, parks and arenas. These accident-prone areas put your pedestrians in danger at any time of the day when drivers don’t have full visibility.
The best solution for at-risk traffic areas are upgrading to LED enhanced signs. Because of its highly visible flash, drivers are more aware of these signs, especially at night and during adverse weather conditions. Both solar- and AC-powered versions are available so that these signs continue working during power outages and around the clock. These signs can also be programmed to operate at pedestrian activation, scheduled days/times or 24/7, depending on your community needs.
Add Flash to Your Crosswalks
Crosswalks are intended to pedestrian safety spots of the road both day and night. Yet, even with the best of intentions, drivers may not see these designated foot traffic areas, putting the people in your community at risk.
Transform these pedestrian areas with FHWA-approved solar crosswalk flashing beacon technology. The high-intensity lights are pedestrian-activated, increasing the driver yield rate when and where it matters most. The self-contained system houses the battery, energy management system and solar panel as one unit, making installation hassle-free on existing signposts.
Restructure Your Roads
More extreme renovations to road design may be needed in your community to ensure pedestrian safety. Are there roads with high foot traffic that could benefit from raised crosswalks or refuge islands?
Could curb extensions and lane reductions increase the chance of safer pedestrian crossings? Consult with safety experts to decide which solution would be best to implement within your community.
Competing priorities, reduced budgets, politics—all of this can get in the way of improving your community’s pedestrian safety. These delays can lead to your roadways—and the people who cross them—more susceptible to becoming a negative statistic. Pairing pedestrian safety education with installed traffic safety measures is the best approach to preventing accidents at night within your community.