Skip to contentUnited States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration FHWA Home
Research Home
This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-03-042
Date: November 2003

A Review of Pedestrian Safety Research in the United States and Abroad

Final Report



A Review of Pedestrian Safety Research in the United States and Abroad Final Report Cover

The overall goal of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Research Program is to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety and mobility. From better crosswalks, sidewalks, and pedestrian technologies to expanded public educational and safety programs, the FHWA's Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Research Program aims to pave the way for a more walkable future.

The following document summarizes research on pedestrian safety in the United States with a focus on crash characteristics and the safety effects of various roadway features and traffic-control devices; it also considers pedestrian educational and enforcement programs. This pedestrian safety synthesis was part of a large FHWA study ("Evaluation of Pedestrian Facilities") that has generated several other documents on the safety of pedestrian crossings and the effects of innovative engineering treatments on pedestrian safety. These other reports on pedestrian safety likely will interest readers.

The results of this research will be useful to transportation researchers, engineers, planners, and safety professionals involved in improving pedestrian safety and mobility.

Michael F. Trentacoste
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.

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.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.



1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

A Review of Pedestrian Safety Research in the United States and Abroad

5. Report Date

November 2003

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

B.J. Campbell, Charles V. Zegeer, Herman H. Huang, and Michael J. Cynecki

8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address

University of North Carolina
Highway Safety Research Center
730 Airport Rd, CB #3430
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3430

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)
11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Safety Research and Development
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report 1999-2002

14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes

This report is part of a larger study for FHWA entitled, "Evaluation of Pedestrian Facilities." FHWA Contracting Officer's Technical Representatives (COTRs): Carol Tan Esse and Ann Do, HRDS.

16. Abstract

The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of research studies on pedestrian safety in the United States; some foreign research also is included. Readers will find details of pedestrian crash characteristics, measures of pedestrian exposure and hazard, and specific roadway features and their effects on pedestrian safety. Such features include crosswalks and alternative crossing treatments, signalization, signing, pedestrian refuge islands, provisions for pedestrians with disabilities, bus stop location, school crossing measures, reflectorization and conspicuity, gradeseparated crossings, traffic-calming measures, and sidewalks and paths. Pedestrian educational and enforcement programs also are discussed.

This report is an update resulting from two earlier reports. The most recent was Synthesis of Safety Research: Pedestrians, by C.V. Zegeer (FHWA-SA-91-034, Aug. 1991). The earlier work was Chapter 16, "Pedestrian Ways" by R.C. Pfefer, A. Sorton, J. Fegan, and M.J. Rosenbaum, which was published by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in Synthesis of Safety Research Related to Traffic Control and Roadway Elements (from Volume 2, Dec. 1982). This updated report includes results from numerous studies, foreign and domestic. A review of pedestrian safety research from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom is given at:

17. Key Words:

Pedestrians, safety research, crashes, countermeasures, education, enforcement

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service,Springfield, VA 22161

19. Security Classif. (of this report)


20. Security Classif. (of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price


SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors









  • Australia (PDF 300 k):
  • Canada (PDF 845 k):
  • Netherlands (PDF 641 k):
  • Sweden (PDF 746 k):
  • United Kingdom (PDF 1,300 k):



Figure 1. Pedestrians include a wide range of ages and physical abilities
Figure 2. School-trip safety can be enhanced by well-trained adult crossing guards
Figure 3. Pedestrian capacity of CBD sidewalks is reduced by light posts, mailboxes, parking meters, etc.
Figure 4. Pedestrians in rural and developing areas need to be able to get from one place to another safely and conveniently
Figure 5. Pedestrian fatalities as a percentage of total traffic fatalities, 1927-1996
Figure 6. A disproportionately high percentage of pedestrian deaths occur at night
Figure 7. Pedestrian injuries by time of day for urban and rural land use
Figure 8. Pedestrian fatalities by time of day for urban and rural land use
Figure 9. Pedestrian fatalities by day of week for urban and rural land use
Figure 10. Pedestrian crashes by age and occurring in fall or winter months (September-February)
Figure 11. Pedestrian fatalities by month
Figure 12. Pedestrian groups overrepresented in pedestrian crashes include males and children. Older adults are more at risk for serious injury or death than younger pedestrians if struck by a motor vehicle
Figure 13. Studies have found that between 42 and 61 percent of pedestrian fatalities in motor vehicle crashes involve pedestrians under the influence of alcohol
Figure 14. Percent of crashes involving pedestrians drinking alcohol
Figure 15. Rural areas account for 23.1 percent of non-fatal injury pedestrians crashes, but 45.2 percent of pedestrians deaths
Figure 16. Pedestrian crashes (fatal and nonfatal) by age and intersection vs. nonintersection
Figure 17. Approximately 60 percent of U.S. urban pedestrians crashes occur at places other than intersections
Figure 18. Pedestrians running into the road without looking are a factor in approximately 15 percent of pedestrian collisions
Figure 19. Turning vehicles pose a particular threat to pedestrians at intersections
Figure 20. Percentage of pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes resulting in death, by pedestrian age, 1980-1990, North Carolina data
Figure 21. Some pedestrian crash types are overrepresented in fatal outcomes, including walking along road
Figure 22. Relative hazard of selected pedestrian characteristics
Figure 23. Crosswalk marking patterns
Figure 24. Pedestrian crash rates at types of crossing
Figure 25. Unsafe motorist behavior at marked crosswalks is one of the causes of pedestrian crashes at marked crosswalks
Figure 26. Crosswalk treatments such as lighted signs have been used in an attempt to affect pedestrian and/or motorist behaviors
Figure 27. Directional movements of pedestrians and bicyclists involved in right-turn-on-red crashes
Figure 28. Examples of treatments that have been tested to reduce pedestrian crashes related to right-turn-on-red (RTOR) motorists
Figure 29. These innovative pedestrian crossing signs had mixed results
Figure 30. Examples of innovative pedestrian signalization alternatives
Figure 31. The Clearwater pedestrian crossing treatment resulted in a positive influence on pedestrian and driver behavior
Figure 32. Illuminated pedestrian push buttons were not found to alter pedestrian crossing behavior
Figure 33. Automatic pedestrian detectors have been found to significantly reduce pedestrian violations of the DON'T WALK indication and reduce pedestrian vehicle conflicts
Figure 34. Some pedestrians are not able to cross an intersection within the signal time provided
Figure 35. Raised median and pedestrian islands may provide a measure of safety to pedestrians
Figure 36. Without adequate facilities, vision-impaired pedestrians are at increased risk
Figure 37. Studies have found that uniformed crossing guards are safer than other control devices such as signs or markings alone
Figure 38. School regulatory flashes have been found to have only limited success in reducing vehicle speeds in school zones, unless adult crossing guards are also helping to control traffic
Figure 39. Reflectorization has been shown to result in a major increase in the visibility of a pedestrian at night
Figure 40. Nighttime detection and recognition distance of pedestrians
Figure 41. Expected usage rate of pedestrian bridges and underpasses, relative to time needed to cross at street level
Figure 42. Grade-separated crossings can be beneficial to pedestrians under certain situations but are very costly and may not be used by pedestrians if not planned properly
Figure 43. Illustrative traffic calming devices
Figure 44. Many traffic-calming measures create an improved environment for pedestrians by reducing vehicle speeds or volumes, and/or shortening crossing distances for pedestrians
Figure 45. Street narrowing can reduce vehicle speeds and provide pedestrians with a narrower street to cross
Figure 46. Traffic diversion projects are designed to shift traffic off neighborhood streets
Figure 47. Pedestrians are safer in areas with sidewalks than in areas without them
Figure 48. "Looking behavior" is encouraged in pedestrian education programs
Figure 49. Effects of "Willie Whistle" educational campaign on pedestrian crashes
Figure 50. Preschool and elementary school children are the target of many pedestrian education programs
Figure 51. Undivided highways had the highest crash risk for pedestrians
Figure 52. Textured pavements at crosswalks may help vision-impaired pedestrians to cross streets



Table 1. Matrix of potential engineering countermeasures for urban pedestrian crashes
Table 2. Matrix of potential "performance objectives" for urban pedestrian crashes
Table 3. Partial summary of pedestrian facility problems and possible solutions
Table 4. Estimated national traffic fatalities by year
Table 5. Ranking of state pedestrian fatality rates per 100,000 residents, 1994
Table 6. Pedestrian collisions by time of day
Table 7. Fatal and nonfatal pedestrian crash types by light condition
Table 8. Pedestrian deaths, injuries, and total collisions by gender of victim
Table 9. Pedestrian crash types by age of pedestrian
Table 10. Pedestrian crash types by pedestrian sobriety
Table 11. Pedestrian injuries and fatalities by area type
Table 12. Pedestrian crash types by traffic control
Table 13. Pedestrian crash types by speed limit
Table 14. Factors contributing to pedestrian collisions
Table 15. Pedestrian crash fault
Table 16. Pedestrian crash types by party at fault
Table 17. Urban pedestrian collision types and critical behavior descriptors
Table 18. Rural pedestrian collision types and critical behavior descriptors
Table 19. Freeway pedestrian collision types and critical behavior descriptors
Table 20. Driver activity leading to pedestrian collisions on freeways
Table 21. Pedestrian activity leading to pedestrian collisions on freeways
Table 22. Pedestrian crash types by pedestrian injury severity
Table 23. Pedestrian action and crash data with resulting hazard index
Table 24. Vehicle action and pedestrian collision data with resulting hazard index
Table 25. Crash effects of providing sodium floodlights at pedestrian crossings (Perth, Australia)
Table 26. Effects of crosswalk illumination on pedestrian crashes (Israel)
Table 27. Summary of effects of pedestrian signal timing on pedestrian crashes
Table 28. Violations and conflicts related to right turn on red
Table 29. Summary of traffic conflicts related to right-turn-on-red pedestrian crashes
Table 30. Comparison of crashes before and after installation of pedestrian overpasses (Tokyo, Japan)
Table 31. Recommended guidelines for new sidewalk/walkway installation




United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration