An Evaluation of the False Sense of Security for Pedestrians at Varied Crosswalk Treatments

An Evaluation of the False Sense of Security for Pedestrians at Varied Crosswalk Treatments


Cole Fitzpatrick, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Ian McKinnon, TetraTech Inc., Dr. Michael Knodler, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This research seeks to determine the safest crosswalk treatments through direct observation of pedestrian and vehicle behavior at various crosswalk treatments.


Pedestrian safety remains one of the most critical issues globally in transportation. Each year, approximately 12 percent of all traffic-related deaths involve a pedestrian, which underscores the need for immediate attention. At the forefront of initiatives to improve pedestrian safety has been a continued focus on enhancement of the crosswalk itself. More specifically, newer pedestrian crosswalk treatments have been implemented with the primary goals of improving crosswalk and pedestrian visibility along with increasing drivers’ yield compliance rates. However, increased levels of safety enhancements may be accompanied by unintended consequences that are related to the degradation of pedestrian vigilance resulting from an increased perception of safety. This research sought to quantify this false sense of security exhibited by pedestrians as a function of various crosswalk treatments. A specific hypothesis being evaluated is that as the level of crosswalk treatment increases (i.e., higher safety), the pedestrian vigilance decreases. This research had two primary objectives: 1) to ascertain if varied pedestrian crosswalk treatments influence specific crossing behaviors, and 2) to quantify the existing sense of security for pedestrians as a function of the crosswalk treatment. Two methodological approaches were employed to collect data on pedestrians’ crossing behaviors, including both direct field and video observations. The naturalistic observations yielded several interesting findings regarding differences in pedestrian behavior (i.e., look/no look, talking on the phone, etc.) as a function of crosswalk treatment. The overall results expand upon current literature and provide specific guidance that is useful in designing appropriate countermeasures aimed towards improving pedestrian safety.


Association for European Transport