Over the past decade, pedestrian deaths have been on the rise nationwide. In some cities, pedestrian fatalities account for up to half of all traffic fatalities. For the last two years, Ann Arbor has taken part in a study to determine whether a much more aggressive approach to pedestrian safety would have a positive impact. Now, the results of that study have been released.
According to an article from Michigan Daily, the study involved a variety of tactics, including:
- Improved visibility of crosswalk signs and signals
- Increased police enforcement of rules requiring that drivers stop for pedestrians
- General awareness campaigns addressing pedestrian safety
The study showed that cars stopping for pedestrians more than doubled in locations enforced by police. Notably, the study also showed a major increase in stopping even in locations that did not have police enforcement present. This is a great outcome and dispels one of the biggest concerns of the study: that drivers would only stop for pedestrians when there was fear of being stopped by police.
Police enforcement definitely played a major role in the outcome. 844 citations were issued, along with 1,658 warnings. However, the fact that drivers were stopping more even at unenforced locations indicated that steps like clearer crosswalk signs and signals made a difference as well. Pedestrians interviewed indicated that they felt much safer using crosswalks with the more aggressive methods in place to keep them safe from crosswalk accidents, while drivers noted the improved visibility of crosswalk indicators such as yellow pedestrian arrow signs.
Ultimately, the study demonstrated that driver behavior can be changed for the better in order to keep pedestrians safe.