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Countdown timers are one way to improve safety for pedestrians at

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Workshop participants in Schaumburg, Illinois

Pedestrian deaths are climbing faster than motorist fatalities in the U.S., increasing 11 percent in 2016 to nearly 6,000, according to recently released data from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

To address some of the behavioral and cultural reasons contributing to pedestrian fatalities—and to share proven, cost-effective ways to improve pedestrian safety—the Institute held the final workshop in its Pedestrian Safety Workshop series in Schaumburg, Illinois, on February 23.

RSI researcher Ron Van Houten of Western Michigan University (WMU) and director Max Donath presented to 68 attendees representing several public agencies, nonprofits, and consultants at the Illinois Department of Transportation District 1 headquarters. Van Houten is a professor in the Department of Psychology at WMU and a behavior analysis expert in the areas of traffic safety, pedestrian safety, intelligent transportation systems, traffic calming, bicycle safety, seat belt use, and reducing impaired driving. His recent projects have included research on bicycle lanes, participating in the development of shared use bicycle marking, and completing a number of large-scale studies on reducing nighttime pedestrian crashes.

In the workshop, Van Houten shared his research on methods for improving pedestrian safety and a community's safety culture, such as in-street sign treatments as well as education and enforcement campaigns. Donath presented his and researcher Chen-Fu Liao’s work on using Bluetooth technology to improve navigation and safety for visually impaired pedestrians and sighted pedestrians who are distracted by their use of smartphones.

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