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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-13-098    Date:  January 2014
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-13-098
Date: January 2014


Human Factors Assessment of Pedestrian Roadway Crossing Behavior

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More than half of pedestrian fatalities occur at unmarked locations away from intersections. However, little research has been conducted to understand why pedestrians cross roadways at unmarked locations. As a result, this study sought to better understand the environmental influences on both where and when pedestrians elect to cross the road. This report examines more than 70,000 pedestrian crossings at 20 different locations. The circumstances of those crossings (pedestrians yielding to vehicles, vehicles yielding to pedestrians, and evasive actions) were documented and analyzed. A model using environmental factors as inputs is provided to predict where (marked crosswalk intersection or outside the marked crosswalk) pedestrians will cross the road.

This report may be of interest to roadway designers, traffic engineers, and researchers who are concerned with the safety of pedestrian crossings at unmarked locations.

Monique Evans
Director, Office of Safety
Research and Development


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

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Technical Documentation Page


1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No.


3. Recipient’s Catalog No.


4. Title and Subtitle

Human Factors Assessment of Pedestrian Roadway Crossing Behavior

5. Report Date

January 2014

6. Performing Organization Code:


7. Author(s)

Stacy A. Balk, Mary Anne Bertola, Jim Shurbutt, and Ann Do

8. Performing Organization Report No.


9. Performing Organization Name and Address

6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

10. Work Unit No.


11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20590-9898

13. Type of Report and Period Covered


14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

The Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) was C.Y. David Yang.

16. Abstract

Pedestrian–vehicle crashes are both common and deadly. The majority of pedestrian fatalities occur outside marked intersection crosswalks. The influences of pedestrian and environmental factors on crossing location choice were examined. A literature review covering factors intrinsic to pedestrians is provided. In addition, pedestrian crossings at 20 different locations were recorded and analyzed. The vast majority of crossings (89 percent of the total observed) took place in the marked intersection crosswalks. Drivers are likely to yield to pedestrians. However, while drivers are more likely to yield to pedestrians in the marked crosswalk, pedestrians and vehicles are equally as likely to yield to one another outside the marked crosswalk. The data also suggest that measures that reduce the perceived affordances to cross the roadway (e.g., flowerbeds that separate the sidewalk from the roadway) also reduce the proportion of crossings outside the marked crosswalks. It also appears that pedestrians cross when perceived control of the crossing is greatest. Measures to increase perceived control have the potential to increase (e.g., visible countdown clocks) or decrease (e.g., large medians) crossings in the marked crosswalk. A model to predict pedestrian crossing location is provided. The model uses various environmental variables as predicting factors and was shown to successfully predict an average of 90 percent of the crossings.

17. Key Words

Pedestrian, crosswalk, midblock crossings, safety, human factors assessment

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through NTIS: National Technical Information Service
5301 Shawnee Road, Alexandria, VA 22312

19. Security Classif. (of this report)


20. Security Classif. (of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price


Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72)Reproduction of completed page authorized

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors

Table of Contents

Executive summary


Pedestrian factors

Environmental factors

Pedestrian Crossing Behaviors: Phase 1

Data Collection Locations

Data collection validation

Video data coding



Pedestrian Crossing Behaviors: Phase 2

Data Collection Locations

Data collection validation

Video data coding



Pedestrian Crossing Behaviors: Phase 3

Data Collection Locations

Data coding



Pedestrian Crossing Behaviors: Combined Results



List of figures


List of tables


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