Visually Impaired Pedestrian Safety at Roundabout and Midblock Crossings

Pedestrians and in particular disabled pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of transportation systems. Safety concerns increase at crosswalks of alternative intersection types (e.g., roundabouts) or midblock crosswalks, which are more complicated environments for visually impaired pedestrians. Existing research has focused on investigating pedestrian (both sighted and visually impaired) gap acceptance behavior near roundabouts, or has investigated the impact of signalization treatments for pedestrians on roundabout operations. No study has investigated the compliance level of drivers at roundabout or midblock crossings under various signage types. The objective of this research is to investigate driver compliance to various types of signage for roundabout and midblock crossings. The particular focus is on signs targeted to improve safety of visually impaired pedestrians. The study will investigate the correlation between different sings and levels of driver compliance as it pertains to yielding to visually impaired pedestrians that are waiting at roundabout crossings. This research is not limited to visually impaired pedestrians but it could be extended to include any type of disabled users. The proposed study consists of two parts. First, the research team will perform a thorough review of existing signage and other control devices that have been proposed for roundabout and midblock crossings and other alternative intersection designs. The focus of this research will be on both static signs and signs that can be activated by a visually impaired pedestrian, through an activation button, infrared technology, or smart phone application. In addition to existing signs, the research team will propose new signs that can be tested as of their effectiveness in improving driver compliance of yielding to visually impaired pedestrians at crossings. A static evaluation will be performed to choose the signage types that are expected to be more effective in inferring the yielding behavior from drivers for both roundabout and midblock crossings. The second part of this study will test the chosen from the static evaluation sign designs and will evaluate their effectiveness in improving driver compliance at pedestrian crossings with the use of the driving simulator that is available at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Multiple scenarios will be developed with different types of signs both user-activated and static at both midblock and roundabout crossings that will allow for an evaluation of driver compliance under various conditions. Several subjects will be recruited to test the scenarios that will differ on the level of pedestrian demands, types of pedestrians (i.e., only visually impaired, only sighted pedestrians, etc.) as well as level of traffic demand that could influence circulating speeds for roundabouts and traveling speeds for midblock crossings. The outcomes of these tests will be sign designs that achieve the highest level of driver compliance for different situations. The proposed research is expected to provide insights for developing and testing pedestrian-activated signs to warn drivers for the presence of visually impaired pedestrians at 2 roundabout and midblock crossings. The outcomes of this research will inform which sign designs are more effective in warning drivers about the presence of visually impaired pedestrians and therefore, improving driver compliance. The ultimate vision is to utilize this information to develop smart phone applications that can be used by visually impaired pedestrians to activate such signs for safer pedestrian crossings. Future work will develop and test such applications through field tests. The proposed research is in accordance with the Safer-Sim theme of using simulation techniques to address safety issues and specifically with the Safety of Vulnerable Road Users theme. The project also fulfills all the project requirements by addressing a safety theme, using driving simulation, involving students at both the undergraduate and graduate level, having a faculty member as a principal investigator (PI) and providing 50% of matching funds from non-Federal sources.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Research project done at University of Massachusetts-Amherst


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    Safety Research Using Simulation University Transportation Center (SaferSim)

    University of Iowa
    Iowa City, IA  United States  52242
  • Principal Investigators:

    Ganz, Aura

    Christofa, Eleni

  • Start Date: 20150401
  • Expected Completion Date: 20170630
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 39246

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01556941
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Safety Research Using Simulation University Transportation Center (SaferSim)
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC53
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Mar 14 2015 1:00AM