Pedestrian Safety on the Roads

With consistent population growth, many urban cities are expanding their transportation networks which not only includes vehicles but also pedestrians as well. Vehicles need to accommodate the pedestrians especially in areas that are multi-modal with public transit, bike routes, sidewalks and neighbourhoods with heavy foot traffic.

Improving Pedestrian Safety within the USA

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), there are approximately 4,000 pedestrian fatalities annually which are about 12% of all traffic fatalities. Furthermore, about 59,000 pedestrians are injured in crashes per year.

The FHWA is currently focusing on pedestrian safety and implementing an integrated approach that involves the 4 E’s: Engineering, Enforcement, Education, and Emergency Services. Their focus is reducing fatalities within 13 States across in the US: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The national fatality rate is 2.5 individuals per 100,000 population and these 13 States were significantly above national average.

Each State needed to develop and implement a strategy to reduce annual fatalities by 10%. The challenge in reducing fatalities is addressing how drivers view and interact with pedestrians. In order to help States address the issues of pedestrian safety, the FHWA created a guide entitled, How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (FHWA-SA-05-12). The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) also provides information, webinars, courses and more on their website at

Florida Improves Pedestrian Safety – Pinellas County

Pinellas County in Florida reviewed their pedestrian safety measures after attending an FHWA Pedestrian Safety Action Plan workshop. Florida had the second highest average pedestrian crash rate per capita across the US at 2.99 per 100,000 individuals and this rate was similar in the Pinellas County region. The County along with the Florida DOT invested more than $4 million into numerous efforts such as countdown signals, high-visibility crosswalks, pedestrian and school safety audits, a midblock crossing study and improvements, a multimedia educational campaign, and a pedestrian law enforcement program. As a result of these efforts, Pinellas County reduced fatalities by 15% in 2010 and another 20% in 2011.

Road Safety Closer to Home

In 2010, Ontario was presented with the Highway Safety Award by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators for their reduction in highway fatalities and promoting safe driving practices. Within Waterloo Region, there have been consistent improvements and resources to improve pedestrian safety on the roads.

As mentioned in a previous blog article, roundabout creation is expanding within the Region and this can introduce new situations on the road with vehicles and pedestrians. The Region has utilized similar strategies as the FHWA to promote road safety such as a multimedia approach and providing abundant information for the public.

Although roundabouts were introduced in the Region as early as 2004, there is still a campaign underway to educate drivers and pedestrians about how to navigate through roundabouts, signaling, pedestrian crosswalks/sidewalks and FAQs. There was even community participation in radio ads to get more individuals involved and aware of the Region’s roundabout safety initiatives.

Understanding Pedestrian Movements on the Road

Many cities are looking into creating a comprehensive strategy to improve road and pedestrian safety. Understanding the movements and capacity of on arterial roads and intersections is important in determining whether additional safety features are needed such as a designated or signalized crosswalk. As pictured below, the City of Phoenix recognized the need to increase safety measures at a community center.

This community center in Phoenix, AZ is located on a busy arterial road near a large mobile home park with many children near by. A multistage crossing was created to provide direct access that also safe for pedestrians.

Miovision provides automated turning movement counts that also count the volume of pedestrians and bicyclists. This collected data can be used in determining appropriate safety measures for roads and intersections based on volumes. In addition to collecting these ped and bike counts, the data can be compared against the vehicle traffic to really understand what the overall traffic situation is like in an area and appropriately address the safety of all the individuals that utilize the road.

Safe travels!


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