Comparison of Alternative Pedestrian Crossing Treatments

In Michigan there were 140 pedestrian fatalities in 2011, which represented a 12% increase over the average over the four previous years. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) would like to increase its focus on reducing the number of pedestrian crashes in Michigan. Efforts to reduce pedestrian crashes in the Detroit area have included signage and traffic control countermeasures. There is a need for low cost countermeasures to increase yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks on multilane roads with moderate to high levels of average daily traffic (ADT). Current treatments include the rectangular rapid flashing beacon (RRFB) which costs around $20,000 per installation and the pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB) signal that costs $100,000. The costs of these treatments limit their deployment. One way to improve the safety at pedestrian crossings is the use of the in-street sign1, which costs around $350 per installation (Gateway installation $1050). This sign is installed in the roadway and reminds drivers that it is the law to yield to pedestrians with crosswalks. One advantage of this device is it requires no action from the pedestrian to activate the device and is therefore active for every crossing. Many studies have documented the efficacy of this sign. The proposed study will determine the conditions in which the in-street sign gateway treatment can be substituted for more expensive RRFB and PHB treatments. The results of this research will assist MDOT in determining how to maximize pedestrian safety benefits with limited financial resources. Evaluating the impact of the in-street sign gateway treatment in a variety of different crossing applications could help identify potential applications of this treatment option. It is also important to determine how much the visual narrowing effect of the gateway treatment contributes to the effect and whether similar effects could be obtained by using delineators without the in-street sign message. Another issue of interest to MDOT is how to extend the useful life of in-street signs. One way to reduce damage to these signs is to vary their placement in the roadway. There are a number of placement strategies that could extend the life of these signs, which should be evaluated.