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How road design can improve pedestrian safety

by | Apr 22, 2021 | Pedestrian Accidents |

In high-traffic urban areas, pedestrians face considerable safety risks. When a pedestrian is involved in a crash with a motor vehicle, the likelihood of death is high. In recent years, the rate of pedestrian deaths has increased dramatically. Between 2009 and 2016, the U.S. saw a 46% spike in pedestrian deaths.

A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the vast majority of pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas (which researchers defined as both cities and suburbs) and on arterials (non-intersections). It describes how effective road design can have a significant impact on pedestrian safety.

Safe crosswalks

On long arterials with few intersections, pedestrians are more inclined to risk crossing over multiple lanes of traffic than to walk long distances to an intersection. Pedestrian-friendly road design involves installing more pedestrian crossings on arterials.

A safe crosswalk involves more than just painting zebra stripes on the road and installing a pedestrian crosswalk sign. It should also include pedestrian-activated flashing lights, which can be conspicuous to drivers during the day or night.

Shorter passages

When a pedestrian must maneuver across multiple lanes of traffic, the risk of an accident is high. By installing curb extensions and median crossings, it shortens the distance the pedestrian has to traverse, thereby reducing risk.


Designated pedestrian walkways – which are frequently absent on suburban roads – are especially important for preventing pedestrian accidents.

The number of pedestrians in urban areas is especially high – and so is the rate of pedestrian-related accidents. Effective urban planning can help to eliminate unnecessary safety risks.



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