The United States has over 263.3 million registered vehicles, making it home to the second most amount of vehicles in the world. As more drivers hit our roads, there is growing concern about how more vehicles will impact the safety of pedestrians walking in urban settings.
The concern for the safety of property and pedestrians stems from the fact that vehicles can become death traps as they travel at higher speeds, and a crash can result in property damage, injuries, and even death if a car strikes a pedestrian.
Millions of crashes happen each year, and in 2006 approximately 500 pedestrians died using a crosswalk. This number is much less than the 1,768 pedestrians died on a road or intersection where a crosswalk was not present, but local officials and communities should look for ways to make their crosswalks safer.
While recent studies show that the majority of accidents that occur near crosswalks are caused by pedestrians not following local laws, many state officials are beginning to realize that accidents also occur due to the lack of signs and markers clearly identifying crosswalks to drivers.
There are many options available to communities that want to make their crosswalks safer for pedestrians and drivers. Let’s take a look at three ways to make crosswalks safer today!
1. Increase Road Visibility Near High-Traffic Crosswalks
One of the best ways to improve the safety of pedestrians using crosswalks is to make the crosswalks more visible to oncoming traffic.
Instead of putting pedestrian safety at risk, engineers and local officials should push for neighborhoods to install features and markings at crosswalks to make them more visible to drivers.
As a result, drivers will have more time to reach the crosswalk traffic even in heavy rain or at night.
Here’s a closer look at the five key features that can be implemented to make the crosswalks more visible.
High-Visibility Crosswalk Markings
Traditional crosswalk markings use distinctive reflective strips help people to quickly identify the crosswalk and any people that might be crossing it at the same time.
Many times city engineers will place crosswalk signs near schools and in neighborhoods with many children since the signs stand out in heavy rain and snow.
It is essential that the crosswalk is safe at all times of the day. Well-lit crosswalks improve the safety of pedestrians and drivers since both parties can see and react to each other in any environment.
This means that all crosswalks should have adequate lighting throughout the day and night to make sure that the crosswalk and the people using it are visible. Crosswalk lights should be bright enough to illuminate the immediate area while not blinding drivers of oncoming traffic.
Typically, crosswalks with lots of foot traffic will have flashing lights installed that will turn on when a pedestrian engages a crossing signal.
Having sufficient lighting near a crosswalk and adding flashing lights to signal pedestrians cross the street can all improve the safety of a crosswalk for drivers and pedestrians.
Crosswalks should also be designed to assist visually impaired pedestrians from veering out of the crosswalk’s safety.
In many cases, visually impaired pedestrians can’t rely on signs or lights to guide them, so crosswalks should use a textured surface on either side of the crosswalk to assist pedestrians using the crosswalk.
While the textured surface won’t impact passing vehicles or other pedestrians, this textured surface can help some pedestrians stay within the safety of the crosswalk.
Car crashes are often the result when a driver is unable to see the road in front of them. Blocked vision can happen for many reasons like sun glares on a windshield, or obstacles in the road.
To improve pedestrian safety in and around crosswalks, city officials should restrict how close cars can park near crosswalks. Parked cars can obstruct a driver’s vision and their ability to see whether there is a person intending to use the crosswalk.
This is why the safest crosswalks have parking restrictions in place on either side and have adequate lighting and safety signs notifying drivers of the upcoming pedestrian traffic. This helps to improve visibility for both drivers and pedestrians using the crosswalks.
2. Support Your Crossing Guards
Crossing guards are volunteers that work hard to help stop the flow of traffic so that civilians can safely cross the road.
Many times, crossing guards are seen at intersections near public schools and other venues where young children frequently travel.
While they are often underappreciated, crossing guards offer an invaluable service, and it helps parents know that their children are safe when navigating city streets and crossing.
Here are some ways that you can make crosswalks in your neighborhood safer with the help of your local crossing guards.
Express Your Appreciation
First off, your neighborhood should show its appreciation for the commitment that crossing guards provide to your neighborhood. Many crossing guards are volunteers, and they sacrifice their own time to help make sure that people are safe.
A simple gesture of appreciation can go a long way, and having a crossing guard present at crosswalks with high pedestrian or vehicle traffic can make a big difference.
If they know that they are appreciated, crossing guards will be able to approach their task with a smile on their face and continue to help people.
Explain The Importance Of Crossing Guards To Your Children
You can make the life of crossing guards easier by telling your children why crossing guards are important.
Crossing guards have a difficult job, and their job becomes a lot easier if children and other pedestrians in the area respect and follow their directions.
Listen To Concerns And Lend Your Voice
You should speak with the crossing guards in your community to ensure they have what they need to do their job as effectively as possible.
This can be as simple as having your local safety committee buy new PPE gear for the crossing guards to use, or even speak with them on a regular basis about their needs and concerns.
Not only will these discussions help you provide support for your crossing guards, but it will also give you an opportunity to hear their recommendations. Since crossing guards work in the area, they can tell you if additional markings or other infrastructure improvements should be made to improve the safety of children and other pedestrians.
3. Add Speed Humps Leading To Crosswalks
Speed humps are a useful tool to stop people from speeding within your neighborhood. Since most drivers don’t mean to speed in neighborhoods with children, you can use a speed hump to “wake up” drivers who are focusing on other tasks and not paying attention to their speed.
Speed humps can be placed several feet before and after a crosswalk to provide a buffer to ensure drivers are paying attention to their surroundings and driving at a safe speed. Drivers who are speeding will feel a jolt when they travel over the speed humps which will cause them to decrease their speed.
Speed humps will naturally encourage drivers to reduce their speed and pay more attention to the environment around them. This will make it more likely that they notice the crosswalk and drive most appropriately.
We hope that this piece helps you to improve the crosswalks in your neighborhood. These are essential features that can help the people and drives within your community to stay safe as they travel.