Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Responses to the Problem of Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities

Once you have analyzed your local problem and established a baseline for measuring effectiveness, you should consider possible responses to address the problem. The following responses provide a foundation of ideas for addressing your particular pedestrian-vehicle crash problem. Several of these responses may be applicable to your community’s problem. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis of your local conditions. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving such a problem. Do not limit yourself to considering what police can do: carefully consider whether others in your community share responsibility for the problem and can help police better respond to it. In some cases, you may need to be shift the responsibility to those who can implement more-effective responses. For example, it might be that redesigning an intersection may be the most effective response. In such a circumstance nonpolice public agencies and private organizations will have to do most of the work in carrying out the response. (For more detailed information on shifting and sharing responsibility, see Response Guide No. 3, Shifting and Sharing Responsibility for Public Safety Problems.)

General Considerations for an Effective Response Strategy

The following are some general considerations that may help you develop and implement an effective response strategy.

  1. Designating a special pedestrian-safety taskforce within your agency. If pedestrian safety problems are common and serious, then it may be worth considering creating of a special group to address these problems. Because the pedestrian behaviors that lead to crashes are often minor, police officers sometimes ignore them. A special group can give them the priority they deserve and can have the flexibility to devise creative responses, based on analysis, that have an impact on the problems.
  2. Training city planners to consider pedestrian safety. City planners are typically involved in road construction, sidewalk repair, sidewalk extensions, etc. Therefore, these personnel should be trained to consider pedestrian safety when modifying the city environment. In doing so, city planners could proactively “design out” the possibility of pedestrian injuries and fatalities before they become a community problem. Some of the websites listed in Appendix B provide information you could use to train city planners on improving pedestrian safety through environmental design.
  3. Creating ordinances to reduce pedestrian-vehicle crashes. Pedestrian ordinances could target certain factors that cause pedestrian-vehicle crashes. For instance, some communities have ordinances that require drivers to park their vehicles a certain distance from marked crosswalks to help drivers and pedestrians see each other.55 It is likely that many cities have parking enforcement agencies, recognizing that enforcement will not be a high police priority. To be most effective, ordinances should target high-risk locations.
  4. Guarding against negative public reactions. Responses that impose a cost on either pedestrians or drivers can cause them to change behaviors. That is the point. But some possible changes could displace the problem. If drivers shift from major streets to residential side streets to avoid traffic calming, for example, they may put pedestrians on the side streets at risk. If midblock crossing is encouraged, but nothing is done to warn drivers, then making it easier to cross midblock will increase pedestrian-vehicle crashes.

    There is considerable controversy over perceived police differential enforcement against minorities, particularly young minority males. Young male pedestrians are at higher risk of being involved in crashes than older males and women, so enforcement will likely impact them the most. If the problem area is in a minority neighborhood, perceptions of racial profiling might increase, unless police discuss the problem and possible responses with the community in advance.

    Even when race is not a factor, those subject to enforcement are likely to perceive it as unfair, unless the police have already sensitized the community to the problem and the need for pedestrians to follow crossing rules. In addition, local merchants, who may rely on pedestrians or drivers, may feel that anything that inconveniences their customers imperils their livelihoods. Working with them early in the problem-solving process can allay some of these fears and help craft solutions that benefit everyone. Finally, gaining community members’ and leaders’ support might guard against negative public reactions. For example, upset residents might be more tolerant of enforcement if their neighbor or a prominent community leader is standing alongside the police department, explaining the necessity of the enforcement.

    One way to gain community support could be to create community-pedestrian safety teams or groups. These collaborative groups could include representatives from law enforcement, city/county traffic engineering, and community and business groups. Such groups could help get feedback from the community about the problem of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, as well as aid in the understanding of the problem and the possible solutions. All the while, including community participants could help create “buy-in” to whatever resulting changes safety teams propose.

Using a Process Model To Develop Specific Responses

This guide has focused on two actors involved in the process of a pedestrian-vehicle crash: the pedestrian and the driver. It has also focused on the physical environment immediately around these two actors’ interaction. We can usefully expand the ideas the pedestrian-vehicle crash triangle summarizes by considering the process by which these crashes take place. Figure 3 depicts this process.

Before pedestrians and drivers are in the same environment, either or both have acted early to either help prevent a crash or make it more likely. Examples of this include drinking, talking on a cell phone, or speeding. As the two actors converge, their earlier decisions influence what they can do just before a potential crash. We call these the immediate actions. Some immediate actions help prevent the crash (e.g., looking both ways before crossing, crossing at the light, slowing down when pedestrians appear to be trying to cross the road, etc) while others make the crash more likely (e.g., darting off the curb).

The physical environment plays a large role here. A barricade, for example, can prevent a drunken pedestrian from crossing a car’s path. The physical environment includes all the proximate physical circumstances that can facilitate or prevent a crash (e.g., signs, signals, barriers, curbs, cars parked at curbs, ice, lighting conditions). The agents interaction in this environment determines if a crash will occur.

Finally, as the actors separate, there is the aftermath to consider. If the crash was avoided, the aftermath might simply be some jangled nerves. If there is a crash, the aftermath includes the injuries sustained, vehicle damage, traffic congestion, etc. As this guide focuses on prevention, we have not addressed the aftermath here. Nevertheless, a problem-solver might want to consider whether changing how the aftermath is handledby drivers, pedestrians, police, emergency medical services, emergency room staff, and otherscould reduce the harm from crashes that do occur. For example, if a substantial number of drivers leave the scene of crashes without reporting to police (hit-and-run), this problem might require separate examination.

The process model is useful for three reasons. First, the model can help you consider the major factors involved in a particular pedestrian-vehicle crash problem. Second, it can help you organize a list of important questions regarding each component of the crash process. Third, the model can help your agency better formulate responses by considering all areas where they could address the problem (e.g., drivers’ early decisions, pedestrians’ immediate decisions). (See Appendix C, “Developing a Comprehensive Response to Pedestrian-Vehicle Crashes.”) The responses this guide next discusses target several components of the process model.

The process model suggests five separate intervention points for a comprehensive response to a pedestrian-vehicle crash: two each for the two actorsto influence early and immediate actionsand one for the physical environment. The responses that follow influence one or more of these five points (we have labeled pedestrian and driver interventions as “early” and “immediate” to show how they fit into this process). Though you should not neglect the aftermath, it is important to remember that preventing the crash in the first place should be the primary goal.

Figure 3: The Process of pedestrian-vehicle crashes.

Some evaluation research studies directly examine the problem of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Many of these analyses, however, report mixed results regarding the effectiveness of certain responses. And researchers have not evaluated some responses. For these reasons, many of the following responses are suggested because of their potential effectiveness for particular circumstances, rather than for widespread applicability. It is important that you continually evaluate your response to assess its impact in your particular community.

Specific Responses to Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities

Pedestrian Behavior

This set of responses addresses both early and immediate actions.

  1. Establishing hotspot-specific crackdowns on jaywalking (immediate). As mentioned, pedestrians might jaywalk if they do not perceive any consequences for their actions. Therefore, your agency could consider increasing the priority of jaywalking enforcement. This approach works best under five conditions:
    • First, the enforcement focuses on a known crash hotspot. Evidence of crackdown effectiveness against other offenses suggests that crackdowns are effective when concentrated in small hotspots, but their effects wear off (see Response Guide No. 1, The Benefits and Consequences of Police Crackdowns).
    • Second, the enforcement concentrates on known times of crashes in these hotspots.
    • Third, the police clearly articulate the reasons for enforcement to the local community, so it is seen as necessary and not arbitrary.
    • Fourth, officers actually act on the increased priority.
    • Fifth, the penalties are sufficiently strong to induce pedestrians to avoid jaywalking but not so onerous that citizen complaints force the police to reduce enforcement prematurely.

    It is also important to note that enforcement crackdowns are seldom sustainable for long periods, so you should best consider crackdowns as a short-term response and not a long-term solution. Consider them to be a short-term supplement to other longer-term responses.

    There is some evidence, however, that jaywalking enforcement programs may not achieve much deterrence. As mentioned above, one report described the “crackdown” that New York City waged on jaywalking during the late-1990s. Nonetheless, this effort to step up jaywalking enforcement seemed to go unnoticed by both police authorities and citizens. In fact, the same article noted that the president of the police officers’ union claimed he had forgotten about the crackdown, while at the same time, dozens of jaywalking New Yorkers said they had seen no change in jaywalking enforcement.

    Finally, although jaywalking and other types of pedestrian behavior have been emphasized as major factors in pedestrian injuries and fatalities, it is important not to confuse the ends and means of the problem. In other words, your agency’s goal should be to reduce pedestrian encounters with moving vehicles, not necessarily to reduce jaywalking. Therefore, be mindful that you should frame responses aimed at pedestrian behavior in the context of reducing actual pedestrian injuries and fatalities, rather than part of a more general crime control strategy.

  2. Launching location-specific pedestrian-safety education/awareness campaigns (early). Some pedestrians might not accurately perceive the risk of injury or fatality from a collision with a vehicle. Consequently, they engage in risky behavior. Pedestrian-safety education/awareness campaigns are a way to alert the public to the dangers of such behavior.56 Some campaigns appear to be effective. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed an educational video (Willie Whistle) intended to teach kindergarteners to third-graders safe crossing practices. An evaluation of the campaign revealed that “dart-and-dash” collisions involving four- to six-year-olds were reduced by 30 percent in test cities.57 In addition, you could target safety campaigns toward unsafe driver behavior. Materials that could help in designing such campaigns are currently available. For a start, see the web resources for improving pedestrian safety in Appendix B.

    In some cities, citizen groups have also created awareness campaigns against jaywalking. For example, volunteers in Shanghai, China have monitored some of the city’s crosswalks.58 These citizens believe that figurative “whistle-blowing” can improve public awareness of the problem of jaywalking.

    Education/awareness campaigns are more successful when they target people who are directly at risk of the problem. For instance, if the problem involves a particular high school where students jaywalk at the school’s opening and closing times, then the campaign should focus on those students and not on students in other, low-risk schools. In addition, you should isolate the awareness campaign’s geographic coverage to problem areas. Using the same example, the message will be more effective if delivered at or near the intersections where the problem occurs, rather than only in school assemblies, for instance. General public-safety campaigns targeting the larger community are largely ineffective, as most people are unaffected by the problem, and the few that are affected forget about the message before they need to apply it.

    See Response Guide No. 5, Crime Prevention Publicity Campaigns.

  3. Coordinating crossing devices to facilitate uninterrupted walking paths (immediate). Some urban pedestrians disobey crossing devices because of their pace of life. These “rushed” pedestrians may have less need to cross against a “Don’t Walk” signal when crossing systems allow for an uninterrupted walking sequence. This response could be inexpensive, as it only involves manipulating crossing-device timing. However, one possible drawback of this response could be increased traffic congestion. Furthermore, coordinating crossing devices at certain locations could be difficult if there is a mix of both pedestrians with and without limited mobility. In other words, the timing of a particular crossing sequence might not accommodate all types of pedestrians.
  4. Installing pedestrian countdown-timer signals at problem intersections (immediate). Some pedestrians might avoid waiting at crossing lights because of the uncertainty of how the long the wait might be.59 Countdown-timer signals inform pedestrians how much time they have until a “Walk” signal flashes, thereby removing the uncertainty. In one community, this crossing system resulted in a 12 percent reduction in jaywalking. 60 Another type of timer signal counts the amount of time a pedestrian has left to cross, rather than the amount of time until a “Walk” signal flashes. Walkers view the devices favorably because they provide additional information, and they understand them better than conventional pedestrian signals.61 Easily understood crossing systems could discourage pedestrians from resorting to jaywalking. The signals are easy to install, have a positive maintenance record, and have been credited with a 52 percent reduction in pedestrian injury collisions.62
  5. Addressing pedestrian drinking behavior (early). If the problem stems from pedestrians’ drinking at bars, then focusing on that might be effective (see box).

    Addressing Pedestrians’ Early Actions: Bar Management and Pedestrian Safety in Shawnee, Kan. 63

    Pedestrian-Vehicle Crashes Before and After Changing Bar Management Practices

    Year

    2001

    2002

    2003

    2004

    2005

    2006

    Accidents

    4

    6

    8

    7

    2

    1

    Ferro’s was located on a major thoroughfare. The bar attracted a very large crowd, but patrons had to park on the far side of the thoroughfare. Large numbers of patrons, therefore, crossed the road sober and returned to their cars drunk.

    To reduce the violence calls, police put pressure on the owners to improve their bar management practices. Among the many changes the owners introduced was a reduction in the number of patrons, which lessened the crowding and accompanying provocations leading to fights. Though the police looked into ways to move the parking area to the same side of the street as Ferro’s, they were unsuccessful.

    Nevertheless, the bar management improvements may have reduced pedestrian- vehicle crashes, as can be seen in the accompanying table. Smith’s work and police pressure to change Ferros practices began in May 2004. If the figures for 200506 are indicative of future crashes, then changing bar management reduced the problem from two thirds to three quarters of the 200204 levels. The decline might be due to fewer patrons crossing the street, or to patrons’ being less inebriated when returning to their vehicles. In either case, if a random fluctuation did not cause the drop in crashes, it seems quite likely that the drop was due to changes in bar practices, as there were no other changes in the immediate area that could have caused this drop.

    Vehicle and Driver Factors

    All of these responses address early decisions, though one also influences immediate decisions. Because of drivers’ isolation in their vehicles and the speed they are traveling, it is difficult to craft immediate responses directed drivers. The physical environment responses, shown later, have immediate effects on drivers and/or pedestrians.

  6. Enforcing speeding violations and other unsafe driver behaviors at high-risk locations (early). Since pedestrians are more likely to be injured or killed as vehicle speeds increase, police could establish speed zones and increase the number of speeding citations at high-risk locations. One way to establish a speed zone could be to install traffic cameras at problem intersections. In addition, local court authorities should aggressively enforce violations related to pedestrian safety. Beyond speeding enforcement, police should also issue citations for unsafe driver behavior that could put pedestrians at risk at intersections (e.g., running red lights, turning on red without looking, failing to yield right-of-way to pedestrians).

    See Problem-Specific Guide No. 3, Speeding in Residential Areas, for further information on controlling speeding.

    The more focused enforcement is at high-risk places, and the more the community understands the reasons for the enforcement, the less likely it is to create pressure from the public to curtail the enforcement. As with pedestrian enforcement, you should consider speed enforcement a temporary strategy supporting a longer-term solution.

  7. Increasing driver’s perceptions of risk regarding pedestrian injuries and fatalities (early). An information program’s impact is probably very low unless police highly target the program at drivers who frequent high-risk locations, and it occurs at those locations. Highly visible warning signs and other devices near crash hotspots may be more effective than general campaigns. During traffic stops at high-risk locations, police officers could distribute information regarding pedestrian and vehicle safety. Another way to make drivers aware of the risk of pedestrian injuries and fatalities is through community-based safety campaigns. For instance, community residents could post lawn signs notifying drivers to slow down because children are at play. In addition, similar to the anti-speeding strategy the Madison Police Department used, community volunteers could join police officers on traffic stops to help explain to speeding drivers the dangers of pedestrian-vehicle crashes. Though it is often difficult to convey information to drivers in moving vehicles, in highly specific circumstances, there may be opportunities to make some of these approaches very useful.
  8. Diverting or calming traffic near pedestrian-vehicle crash hotspots (early and immediate). Police could use barricades or other rerouting devices to direct vehicle traffic away from high-risk locations. In addition, installing speed bumps or speed humps is another option. Speed bumps or humps calm traffic without directly causing drivers to divert from their typical travel routes. In both cases, vehicle traffic could increase in other nearby areas as drivers try to avoid traffic calming. Consequently, areas not experiencing many pedestrian injuries and fatalities could become high-risk locations. So traffic calming should work best when there are few good alternative routes and maintaining rapid traffic flow is not a high priority. In addition, it might be best to divert traffic to nearby areas that have small pedestrian populations.
  9. Addressing drunken drivers (early). This response is likely most appropriate in “night life’ areas marked by both heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Police could establish DUI checkpoints to deter drunken motorists from driving in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic. They could use this response in conjunction with monitoring drunken pedestrians, as mentioned above. Interventions with bar owners regarding serving policies might also be useful in some circumstances.

    See the POP guide titled Drunk Driving for further information on controlling drunken drivers.

    Immediate Physical Environment

    Because the physical environment surrounds the immediate decisions, all of these interventions are designed to influence pedestrian and/or driver decisions in the immediate context of a potential crash. In addition, some of the following responses focus on improving existing crossing systems and other safety measures. Some crash hotspots, however, might not have any crossing systems or safety measures to begin with. Therefore, your agency might consider less expensive devices before resorting to some of the more sophisticated crossing systems and safety measures discussed below.

  10. Constructing pedestrian barriers to separate foot traffic from vehicles at pedestrian-vehicle collision hotspots. This response is based on the idea that physical separation keeps pedestrians from crossing streets at prohibited sites. In two cities, significant decreases occurred in the number of pedestrians crossing midblock before and after the installation of pedestrian barricades.64 One drawback, however, is that installing such barricades can be expensive.65 However, using more-inexpensive barricades, such as shrubs and planters, could also be an option. A variation on these barricades is to place them down the middle of very wide streets, in a median. Pedestrians thinking of crossing would note that they could not cross completely so they would go to the appropriate crossing. One drawback to this option is that the barricade can act as a trap for pedestrians who miscalculate and try to cross the street.
    A variety of safety barriers are possible.

    Photo 4: A variety of safety barriers are possible. The first photo shows a simple barrier designed to separate children from their parents’ vehicles during drop-off and pick-up times at a private school. The second photo shows a barrier along a busy street that was designed to enhance the environment. The barrier consists of a decorative chain, plantings, street furniture, and a change in the walking surface. It leads to a designated crossing point marked by signs and lights. The lights are pedestrian-controlled.

  11. Installing curb extensions at problem locations. At both intersections and midblock areas, the curb can be extended into the road to narrow the distance between crossing points and increase visibility for both drivers and pedestrians (e.g., when looking past parked cars).66 One problem with curb extensions is that they place pedestrians closer to moving traffic when compared with traditional intersections. In addition, curb extensions could affect bus routes, require maintenance, and interfere with street drainage patterns. 67
  12. Installing crossing systems that include a pedestrian detection system. These crossing systems have low poles with sensors on both sides of the crosswalk. When pedestrians approach, warning lights that are raised above the pavement send a bright beam of light toward oncoming traffic to yield.68 The systems run on solar power, so power loss is not a problem, at least in areas with sufficient sunlight. These systems give pedestrians the right-of-way, which caused a reduction in pedestrians’ crossing outside the crosswalk in one evaluation.69 The appearance of these crossing systems, however, could confuse both drivers and pedestrians creating a worse hazard.
  13. Installing fluorescent strong yellow-green (SYG) pedestrian warning signs. If the visibility of pedestrian warning signs is creating a problem, your agency could consider using fluorescent SYG pedestrian warning signs made from microprismatic material. 70 These types of signs are more reflective and more visible to drivers when compared with traditional engineer-grade yellow pedestrian warning signs. 71 Overall, SYGs have produced marginal improvements in pedestrian safety during daylight conditions.72 One problem with SYGs is that they are not as effective (i.e., less reflective) under low ambient-light conditions.73 Therefore, SYGs might not be appropriate for reducing pedestrian-vehicle crashes at hotspots where most crashes occur at dusk, at dawn, or in the evening.
  14. Designing wider roads and increasing existing roads’ width to deter jaywalking. We could not locate an evaluation of this response’s effectiveness. Two obvious drawbacks of this response, however, are that road widening is expensive, and construction could be inconvenient for the community. Another consequence is that wider roads could encourage faster traffic and longer risk-exposure times for pedestrians. Therefore, it might work best if you install pedestrian barricades if you widen roads, and you may want to also increase crossing-signal time for higher-risk pedestrians, as well. In doing so, this strategy could both potentially curb jaywalking and still allow enough time for higher-risk pedestrians to cross safely. Your agency should consider the characteristics of people involved in pedestrian-vehicle crashes before implementing this response. Note that this solution is opposite to the idea of traffic calming.
  15. Increasing the length of crossing signal intervals. This response might be most useful at wider roads where specific pedestrian groups (e.g., the elderly, people with limited mobility) are frequently injured or killed because they do not have enough time to cross safely. For reasons mentioned above, this response might be necessary if your agency widens roads to deter jaywalkers.
  16. Improving sidewalks and other pedestrian walkways. You should have damaged sidewalks repaired and congested walkways widened. Your agency could reduce jaywalking-related pedestrian-vehicle crashes by providing an acceptable travel surface for pedestrians. Your agency might need to cooperate with homeowners or apartment managers when controlling sidewalk obstructions is their responsibility. If the local government is responsible for trees planted along sidewalks, the appropriate city agency should prune them to a height that allows pedestrians to pass safely.
  17. Encouraging pedestrians to cross at controlled intersections. Midblock bus stops increase the risk pedestrians will cross midblock, even when there is no crossing. The city of San Diego relocated several bus stops from midblock to locations closer to intersections.74 This strategy increased the use of marked crosswalks and pedestrian signals at the intersections.
  18. Increasing lighting near high-risk intersections and pedestrian routes. To ensure that drivers can see pedestrians at night, the city should install lights near high-risk intersections and pedestrian routes. If lights are already present in these types of areas, you should have their brightness assessed and increased, if needed.
    A pedestrian safety island.

    Photo 5: A pedestrian safety island. This island is on a busy street bounding a large university. It was created when the university built a student housing complex on the opposite side of the street. It is marked by signs, but does not have a light.

  19. Providing midblock pedestrian islands when blocks are long and streets are wide. If pedestrians have to walk very long distances out of their way to cross a street, then they are more likely to cross in midblock. Facilitating safe crossing midblock is an option in such cases. When the streets are wide, a safe haven in the middle of the street lets pedestrians make two short crossings. Further, they have to look only one way for oncoming traffic, rather than having to look for vehicles coming from two directions. You should ensure that the islands are clearly marked for pedestrians and visible to drivers, so they can easily move around them but still see pedestrians.
  20. Providing marked midblock crossings on narrow streets. In areas where pedestrian traffic and street crossing is common, you can have designated midblock crossings marked on the pavement and through signs. This notifies drivers about pedestrians’ right-of-way in such crossings. You often find such a response in shopping areas, on streets with busy bus stops on both sides (thus facilitating transfers), and around college campuses. Clearly, these crosswalks impede vehicle traffic, so they are best used on streets where flow speed is not essential and traffic calming is desirable.

    In addition, raising crosswalks’ table higher than the road (so they act like speed humps), and/or building crosswalks out of textured material, can also draw drivers’ attention to them. In snowy communities, however, such crosswalks might not be viable due to snowplow damage.

  21. Establishing parking regulations in low-visibility areas. Cars parked on the street could flank some crossing areas while cars parked at the end of driveways could block sidewalks. Consequently, pedestrians might cross from between cars parked where it is difficult to see oncoming traffic, or enter roads to avoid parked cars. Therefore, removing parked cars from such areas could increase both pedestrian and driver visibility.
  22. Creating pedestrian flag locations. The city of Madison has installed pedestrian flags at 50 intersections as part of the “Flags Over Dane County” program. These flags are meant to make drivers aware of pedestrian traffic, causing them to yield. Specifically, pedestrians first use red flags to signal their intent to cross the street, then cross while still holding the flags. Although flag-carrying pedestrians have the right-of-way, they should not assume that carrying a flag is a safeguard in itself. Pedestrians should still be cautious of heavy vehicle traffic and the fact that some motorists might not see a flag. For more information on Madison’s specific strategy, see http://www.ci.madison.wi.us/police/pedestrianflags.html
  23. Using portable pedestrian warning signs. You can use portable warning signs to make both drivers and pedestrians aware of pedestrian safety near crash hotspots. Portable signs are likely less expensive than more-permanent environmental changes. In addition, you can quickly install portable signs if other crash hotspots develop.
  24. Installing in-street yield-to-pedestrian signs. In-street yield-to-pedestrian signs might be more visible to drivers than pedestrian signs that are located near intersection sidewalks. In Madison, in-street yield-to-pedestrian signs led to a significant increase in drivers’ yielding to pedestrians in two out of three test locations.75 At the site where researchers found no improvement, the in-street yield sign was placed on a raised median and farthest from vehicle travel lanes. 76 Therefore, this response’s effectiveness might depend on where you place the signs and on the intersections’ characteristics.

Special Conditions

  1. Maintaining walking surfaces in inclement weather. If your community experiences snowy and icy weather, your agency might want to encourage local government and business owners to maintain safe walking surfaces. For instance, perhaps snow removal and sidewalk de-icing near dangerous intersections might enable pedestrians to avoid crashes with cars.
  2. Improving conditions for pedestrians with limited mobility. In areas where pedestrians with limited mobility represent a large proportion of the population, it might be possible to design sidewalks to accommodate wheelchair/scooter travel. At minimum, sidewalks should be smooth, have no obstructions, and have useable curb cuts (i.e., they do not fill with water, snow, or ice in inclement weather). In addition, your agency could encourage pedestrians with limited mobility to use high-visibility accessories on their chairs and scooters. In any case, during scanning and analysis, police should look at victims capabilities and assess whether there is a separate problem associated with a special population. If so, partnering with a local, state, or national organization for such people is advisable. It is worth noting that many of the same features that aid people with movement-related limitations also help people without these limitations (e.g., all pedestrians benefit from sidewalks without buckled pavement, cracks, and water traps).
  3. Making streets safer for children and teens. You can apply most of the responses in this guide to specific problems involving children and teens. However, there may be particular considerations. Improving or creating recreation sites that serve the needs of children and teens can shift their play from streets to safe areas. But doing so will work only if the recreation sites facilitate the play they are interested in: a playground for toddlers will not serve the needs of 12- or 16-year-olds, for example. Along walking routes to schools, it has been common practice for crossing guards, parents, and older children to provide street-crossing supervision.

    Consulting with schools, recreation departments, parents, and others involved with children and teens will be important in crafting an effective response. For instance, the Hamilton-Wentworth (Ontario) Police Department partnered with various city departments, the board of education, parents associations, and other related traffic-safety councils to develop KIDestrian.77 This strategy resulted in the development and distribution of a pedestrian safety book, along with kits that included a series of safety information and practical exercises.78 In addition, you might consult with older children and teens to understand what responses these groups find most appealing.

  4. Improving pedestrian safety in shopping-center parking areas. You could improve parking areas with some of the same measures used to make city streets safer for pedestrians. For example, local commerce organizations or business owners could install signs, crossing devices, crosswalks, and lighting to increase visibility for both pedestrians and drivers.
  5. Monitoring construction sites. Your agency could partner with builder associations to make sure pedestrian detour routes are more convenient and safer to use. In addition, your agency could make sure debris and other construction materials do not block pedestrian paths.
  6. Improving safety for workers at higher risk of crashes. You could encourage the training of newly hired workers in high-risk positions to avoid dangerous situations and behaviors during orientation seminars. In addition, high-visibility gear and equipment (e.g., reflective clothing, vehicle warning lights) could also make workers more visible to oncoming motorists. You should encourage agencies whose employees work on the streets to adopt safer standard operating procedures.
  7. Separating pedestrians from highway entrance/exit ramps. Building pedestrian tunnels and bridges near highway ramps provides a place for pedestrians to walk that separates them from merging traffic. However, some liabilities to both structures exist. First, pedestrian tunnels could induce the fear of being mugged. Therefore, tunnels should be well lit and short and wide enough that someone, upon entering, can see the other side. Second, tunnels should not contain obstructions behind which people could hide. Third, pedestrian bridges could become icy and dangerous in the winter. Fourth, building both pedestrian tunnels and bridges is very expensive. Fifth, some pedestrians might avoid these structures because they require extra effort to descend or climb stairs. Finally, overpasses can also create opportunities for vandalism and throwing objects at vehicles passing below.
  8. Relocating popular attractions or services. When nearby attractions or services are across the street from where many residents live or from parking facilities or locations, it might be possible to relocate such places on the side of the road where most people live or park, so they do not need to cross the road. Relocating businesses is likely very expensive and would require major rezoning. In addition, established business owners might be reluctant to move their location.
  9. Responses with Limited Effectiveness

  10. Redesigning dangerous vehicles. Vehicles, in particular light truck vehicles, should be redesigned to minimize the harm caused in pedestrian-vehicle crashes. However, redesigning vehicles likely does little to reduce the actual occurrence of pedestrian-vehicle crashes. Therefore, the response is largely limited to reducing the severity of the crash rather than the likelihood of the crash itself. Though redesigning vehicles is beyond any single local government’s ability, restricting which types of vehicles can use particular streets may be useful in some circumstances.
  11. Launching a general pedestrian-safety education/awareness campaign. As mentioned, publicity campaigns used to educate the public on pedestrian-vehicle crashes should target a specific audience, ideally potential victims and offenders. Therefore, informing the general public about pedestrian-vehicle crashes is probably a waste of resources as such campaigns may not reach the relatively few people who need to know. Furthermore, a general education campaign would not target the times and places most salient to the pedestrians and drivers involved. Outside of the crash hotspots, bill boards, radio and television spots, and other media efforts are unlikely to convey the message to the right people when they can use it.

    See Response Guide No. 5, Crime Prevention Publicity Campaigns.

  12. Launching a general enforcement campaign against jaywalkers. Enforcement is effective when highly focused, and then only as an interim solution. Citywide enforcement campaigns to improve pedestrian safety are unlikely to work for four reasons: 1) police are spread too thin to create a strong deterrent; 2) the average patrol officer has many other higher-priority tasks; 3) police will direct most of the effort at locations where pedestrian-vehicle crash risks are low; and 4) broadscale enforcement undermines police authority by increasing negative police-citizen interactions.

Considering a Combined Response

Some communities could experience multiple factors that cause a pedestrian injury and fatality problem. For instance, it is possible that your community has high-risk areas due to pedestrian behavior and vehicle and driver factors, as well as structural issues. The following example shows how the city of San Diego used enforcement, education, and engineering to address pedestrian and structural factors.

A Combined Response to Pedestrian-Vehicle Crashes in San Diego 79

In 1998, the city of San Diego experienced 24 fatal crashes involving pedestrians, with pedestrians’ being at fault 80 percent of the time. In 1999, the city experienced a 50 percent increase in fatal crashes involving pedestrians, with pedestrians being at fault 72 percent of the time. Analysts discovered that the problem disproportionately occurred along two main streets.

Police used the SARA (Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment) process to address the problem. Following analysis, the San Diego Police Department developed a response that included enforcement, education, and engineering strategies.

The strategy involved these elements:

Enforcement: A multiunit approach to aggressive jaywalking enforcement resulted in 859 pedestrian-officer contacts.

Education: Officers from the Traffic Safety Office developed a brochure outlining pedestrian safety and responsibility. In addition, media coverage highlighted the problem of pedestrian-vehicle crashes, applicable laws, and the police department’s response.

Engineering: The problem was related to midblock bus stops, where riders exited and crossed the street midblock rather than walking to the nearest pedestrian-regulated intersection. Therefore, the city moved eight different bus stops from midblock locations closer to intersections (thereby increasing the use of marked crosswalks and pedestrian signals).

Later evaluation revealed that there was nearly a 20 percent reduction in the pedestrian-vehicle crash rate in the project area.