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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-06-125
Date: November 2006

Pedestrian and Bicyclist Intersection Safety Indices

Final Report

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CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

There has been a pressing need for research to develop new tools to mitigate the loss of life resulting from pedestrian and bicyclist crashes with motor vehicles. National crash statistics for 2004 show that 4,641 pedestrians and 725 pedalcyclists were killed in crashes, accounting for approximately 13 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States (NHTSA, 2004). In urban areas alone, these statistics can be much higher. Many injuries are not reported to recordkeeping authorities. A study by Stutts, et al. (1990) showed that less than two–thirds of bicycle–motor vehicle crashes serious enough to require emergency room treatment were reported in State motor vehicle files. Recent Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) research for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) presented in Accident Analysis and Prevention corroborates such findings for both bicyclists and pedestrians (Stutts and Hunter, 1999).

Around 40 percent of pedestrian collisions occur at intersections and an additional 8 percent at driveway or alley intersections (Hunter, Stutts, Pein, and Cox, 1996). A variety of factors play a role, including pedestrian age, width of the crossing, street corners with large turning radii permitting higher motor vehicle speeds, and misunderstanding of pedestrian signals (Zegeer, 1991). Hunter, Stutts, Pein, and Cox (1996) also found that half of bicycle–motor vehicle collisions take place at intersections. Related factors include the age of the bicyclist, motor vehicle speeds and traffic volumes, provision of auxiliary right–turn lanes, and other designs that lead to weaving between bicycles and motor vehicles.

The objective of this study was to develop macro–level Pedestrian and Bicycle Intersection Safety Indices (Ped ISI and Bike ISI) that would allow engineers, planners, and other practitioners to use known intersection characteristics to proactively prioritize crosswalks and intersection approaches with respect to pedestrian and bicycle safety. Using variables that indicate a higher probability of risk for pedestrians or bicyclists, the Ped ISI and Bike ISI can be used to identify which crosswalks and intersection approaches have the highest priority for pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements within a particular jurisdiction. Once high–priority sites are identified, practitioners may conduct an in–depth evaluation at each site to determine which specific countermeasures would be appropriate to address any safety problems.

 

FHWA-HRT-06-125

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