A pedestrian is struck and killed every two hours in the United States, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA).
The responsibility of improving pedestrian safety falls on the shoulders of local governments and transportation officials who must foresee potential problem spots and implement the right safety solutions.
But as budgets tighten and urban populations expand, communities find themselves with limited resources and serious pedestrian safety problems to solve.
Which means some of the proven pedestrian safety improvements – Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons (RRFBs), LED-Enhanced Signs and Beacons, for example – aren’t always fiscally practical. This leaves local officials searching for solutions that fit their budget while offering tremendous value.
Here are five low-cost options cash-strapped communities should consider to improve pedestrian safety:
First and foremost, make sure there are clearly marked crosswalks at uncontrolled crossings before implementing other pedestrian safety enhancements.
If there isn't a clear path for pedestrians to cross the street, jaywalking through oncoming traffic will become the norm and pedestrian safety will inherently decrease.
2. Parking Restrictions
Cars parked too close to intersection crosswalks greatly decrease visibility for both pedestrians and motorists. The Manual on Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) requires at least 20 feet of space be kept open between crosswalks and designated parking areas; however, additional space in encouraged to improve pedestrian and driver sight distance.
Eliminating street parking may cause community pushback in highly trafficked areas, so if road parking space is at a premium, options three through five may be right for you.
3. In-street Signs
Perfect for two-lane, low-speed side streets (school zones!), in-street signs make the crosswalk more noticeable and increase driver yielding. In-street signs should be installed in the crosswalk or on a median without altering the pedestrians' intended path of travel.
The most common types of in-street signs that improve pedestrian safety are "Stop For" and "Yield To" signs. Both can be permanently installed in the street or mounted on a portable base, so they can be moved as needed.
4. Advance Stop or Yield Lines
Advance stop or yield lines are a simple yet effective way to increase both pedestrian and motorist visibility where both parties are blinded by the stopped vehicle at the crosswalk. When installing advance stop or yield lines, be sure to place proper signage at the new marking.
5. High-Visibility Safety Apparel
Equipping crossing guards and police officers with proper high-visibility safety apparel as they assist pedestrians crossing dangerous intersections heightens visibility and alerts motorists of pedestrians in the crosswalk. Be sure your high-visibility safety apparel follows the new federal revisions. If you're not familiar with these changes, check out this Safe Travels blog post to learn more!
Don't wait for something preventable to happen in your community before taking action. Browse our full line of traffic safety solutions today.
TAPCO | Product Manager
With over a decade in business development, marketing and product management, Robert strives to improve transportation safety through innovation.