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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-17-106    Date:  April 2018
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-17-106
Date: April 2018


Guidebook on Identification of High Pedestrian Crash Locations


One of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s top priorities is the improvement of pedestrian and bicyclist safety. The Federal Highway Administration promotes safe, comfortable, and convenient walking for people of all ages and abilities. Part of this effort has been to encourage a data-driven approach to identifying and mitigating safety problems. An initial step in reducing the frequency of pedestrian crashes is identifying where they are occurring or where there is a concern that they are likely to occur. This guidebook documents methods and examples used to identify or prioritize high pedestrian crash sites to assist State and local agencies in identifying high pedestrian crash locations such as intersections (points), segments, facilities, and areas. The process of identifying high pedestrian crash locations results in a prioritized list of potential locations on the roadway system that could benefit from safety improvement projects.

The research team contacted several cities and States to determine the criteria being used to identify and rank high pedestrian crash locations. In all cases, crash data are being used. In some cases, cities and States are considering other variables, especially when developing the list of sites for treatments. For example, Los Angeles, CA, uses a score that considers the age of the pedestrian and a health and equity index in addition to the number of injury crashes and the number of fatal crashes. Several of the cities have created unique lists for intersections, facilities, and areas, recognizing that treatment selection would be different for these element types.

Most agencies now have available the geographic coordinates of crashes, which is resulting in the ability to quickly illustrate visually where crashes are occurring. All of the interviewed agencies are using geographic information systems (GISs) to identify high crash locations. The agencies generally start with identifying high crash intersections and then group the sites into facilities and/or areas. GIS tools are used to aid in the grouping; however, several agencies noted that visually confirming the grouping is how they set the limits for their corridors and areas.

Agencies have considered surrogates, such as activity centers, walk scores, or citizens’ comments, to identify locations of concerns. Pedestrian exposure data are rarely used to identify sites because of the lack of good data. The analysis period ranges between 1 and 3 yr. The agencies noted that pedestrian and bicycle crashes are different from motor crashes and require unique efforts.

The skill set needed to work with crash data includes familiarity with GISs and the ability to work with attribute tables and programming. Key lessons learned include the following:

Some of the cities suggested that the list of sites and plans should be shared with the public so that residents know where the city is performing work and how those decisions were made.

Examples of approaches used and lessons learned from previous studies include the following:

The methods used to identify and evaluate sites with a high crash frequency have evolved, in the recent decades, in the following ways:

When considering approaches other than crashes, recent advances in statistical techniques have provided several methods and tools that can be used to identify locations with concerns for pedestrians. These methods include safety performance functions, the Highway Safety Manual, and systemic analyses and provide the opportunity to allow comparisons between a city’s data and national trends.(2) The growth of better statistical techniques also permits the profession to better handle regression to the mean and low sample challenges.

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