Strategies to Improve Pedestrian Safety at Night

In 2019, there were 6,205 reported pedestrian deaths in traffic crashes on the nation’s roadways (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Report: DOT HS 813 021), accounting for 17% of all traffic fatalities that year and representing a 30.3% increase in pedestrian fatalities over the past 5 years. Approximately 75% of these fatalities occurred at night. In fact, during the 2008-2017 period, nighttime crashes accounted for more than 90% of the total increase in pedestrian deaths. Research indicates that nighttime pedestrian collisions have an 83% chance of being fatal at intersections without street lighting and a 54% chance at those with street lighting. Even when the collision is not fatal, injuries sustained by pedestrians at nighttime tend to be much more severe than those incurred during daylight time. While visibility is obviously the single most important factor impacting pedestrian nighttime safety, there appear to be a host of other factors whose interplay may also have a role in exacerbating the issue. These factors also need to be understood fully to help develop an effective strategy for improving pedestrian safety at night. Much of the research to-date on pedestrian nighttime safety has focused essentially on vehicular headlighting and reflective clothing with the general conclusion that increased headlight sight distance and clothing conspicuity help improve pedestrian safety outcomes. Some studies have identified vehicle speed, limited-access roadways, and alcohol use by pedestrians and/or vehicle drivers as some of the major factors impacting pedestrian safety. However, these studies used data prior to 2004 for their findings, which may not fully explain the steep rise in nighttime pedestrian fatalities in the past decade. Driver and pedestrian distraction and changing vehicle body types have also been suggested as possible contributors to the recent increase in pedestrian fatalities, but the available data is not conclusive enough to establish meaningful correlations. Existing common strategies are often limited in their applicability due to funding restraints, technical limitations, policy shortcomings, or other factors. Research is needed to support transportation agencies’ data-driven decisions aimed at improving pedestrian safety at night. For example, in situations where lighting is not feasible due to funding issues or other practical reasons, agencies need a menu of alternative multidisciplinary strategies that can help improve pedestrian safety. The objectives of this research are to: (1) establish root causes of pedestrian traffic crashes at night; (2) identify, and evaluate the effectiveness of, existing and emerging strategies for improving pedestrian nighttime safety; (3) propose effective, economically-viable strategies to mitigate nighttime pedestrian crashes; and (4) develop guidance for implementing the proposed strategies.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $500000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 17-97

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Jawed, Inam

  • Performing Organizations:

    Toole Design Group

  • Principal Investigators:

    Danila, Michelle

  • Start Date: 20211001
  • Expected Completion Date: 20240930
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01739574
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 17-97
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 19 2020 4:52PM