Research

Assessing the Impact of Pedestrian-Activated Crossing Systems

Principal Investigator:

  • John Hourdos, Director, MN Traffic Observatory, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Co-Investigator

  • Gary Davis, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project Summary:

In the past decade, several different treatments aimed at improving pedestrian safety and mobility by positively affecting driver behavior have been designed and deployed. These include the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (HAWK), the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB), flashing LED crosswalk signs, and several others. Although prior studies have shown that these systems can have an aggregate positive effect on driver yielding rates, their effects on pedestrian crashes is less clear, and richer insight as to their selection and placement is needed. In Minnesota several sites have had these treatments in place long enough that it may be possible to perform safety analyses. Additionally, the Minnesota Traffic Observatory perfected methods for collecting long-period observations, allowing us to investigate the effect of varying conditions such as traffic volume, pedestrian demand, and lighting conditions on driver and pedestrian behavior as well as treatment performance. This project is a two-pronged study that will integrate results from a crash-record-based safety study with direct, long-term, and staged observations of pedestrian-vehicle interactions at crosswalks with particular treatments. The study will cover a minimum of two sites for each selected treatment with varying roadway characteristics, along with appropriate control sites lacking the target treatment. Finally, on selected sites with the target treatments, we aim to conduct a traffic conflict study based on pedestrian and vehicle trajectoriesin order to identify the individual effect each treatment has on crash potential.