Pedestrian collision prevention is an important goal as pedestrians remain a vulnerable group, especially among children and the elderly.
Preventing accidents involving pedestrians often includes conducting a needs assessment to identify problems with current infrastructure. Counter-measures must be developed and programs planned to address issues endangering pedestrians. Effective pedestrian safety programs must be implemented, monitored and evaluated.
An experienced pedestrian accident attorney knows roads not designed with pedestrians in mind increase the potential for collisions, while well-designed roads make walking safer for everyone.
EFFECTIVE ROAD DESIGN TO PROTECT PEDESTRIANS
A Governors’ Highway Safety Association (GHSA)presentation explains components of an effective plan to improve road conditions and increase pedestrian safety. Any plan must be transparent and easily explained to funders and to the public. The plan must be safety-oriented and practical so it can be effectively implemented.
When municipalities move forward with implementing new plans to improve road conditions and increase safety, areas near schools should be prioritized. A field review should identify schools where risks are greatest, as these facilities can be given the highest priority for infrastructure improvements.
Schools should be grouped based on current safety concerns, levels of pedestrian traffic, and crash history in the area. When few students walk, determine should be made whether the low pedestrian rate exists because of infrastructure barriers or safety concerns.
A road safety audit to identify high-risk schools involves looking at factors including:
- Whether sidewalks are provided along the street or whether a wide walking shoulder exists to accommodate both pedestrians and bicyclists. If a sidewalk or walking shoulder exists, can it accommodate all pedestrians who want to walk in the area during peak periods?
- Whether shoulders and/or sidewalks exist and are paved on sides of bridges.
- Whether there is sufficient separation distance between pedestrians and vehicle traffic.
- Whether people with visual impairments can discern the boundaries between streets and sidewalks.
- Whether ramps are available to provide an alternative to stairs when inclines exist.
- Whether any available walking paths or sidewalks are free from obstructions.
- The grade and slope of the walking surface and whether it is too steep.
- Whether the grade and surface of the walking are is well-maintained.
- Whether vegetation, fences, or other obstructions prevent a driver from seeing a pedestrian approaching a driveway or intersections.
- Whether there is adequate lighting in sidewalk areas.
- Whether there are too many driveways on the route, making it undesirable for pedestrians to travel on.
- Whether there is the potential for conflicts to arise between bicycle riders and pedestrians when sidewalks are being shared.
When schools are identified where pedestrians are at high risk, municipalities may be eligible to apply for funding from Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS), a federal program designed to allow for improvement of walking conditions near school areas.
Poorly designed roads can result in legal action being taken against government agencies when road conditions are a factor in a crash cause. Roads with limited visibility or a lack of safe walking areas can increase the potential for a collision between a motor vehicle and pedestrian and drivers can be held accountable if their behavior contributed to the collision.