The National Academies

NCHRP 17-73 [Active]

Systemic Pedestrian Safety Analyses

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Staff Responsibility: Lori L. Sundstrom
Research Agency: Univeristy of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill
Principal Investigator: Laura Sandt
Effective Date: 7/28/2015
Completion Date: 7/28/2017

STATUS: Research is in progress.

Pedestrian-related crashes accounted for approximately 12 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States during the last decade, amounting to more than 4,500 deaths per year. Many of the risk factors and the spatio-temporal distributions of crashes that involve pedestrians are inherently different from crashes that involve motorized vehicles only. There are two complementary, data-driven approaches commonly used by transportation agencies to allocate safety resources to reduce crashes. The site analysis approach focuses on identifying and recommending safety improvements for high collision concentration locations (often referred to as hot spots or black spots). The systemic approach is used to proactively identify sites for potential safety improvement based on specific risk factors associated with a particular crash type or a grouping of crash types that are spread across the network with few or no individual locations experiencing a high volume of crashes. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Safety has acknowledged four benefits of the systemic approach: (1) solves an unmet need in transportation safety; (2) uses a risk-based approach to prevent crashes; (3) results in a comprehensive road safety program; and (4) advances a cost-effective means to address safety concerns. In order to implement a systemic approach to pedestrian safety, transportation agencies need to answer three basic questions: (1) what risk factors are associated with pedestrian-related crashes? (2) where do risk factors exist on the system? and (3) what countermeasures can be implemented across those locations to mitigate those risk factors? Research is needed to provide guidance to transportation agencies on how they can identify and prioritize systemic safety improvements to reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries.

The objective of this research is to develop a process for (1) conducting systemic safety analyses for pedestrians using analytical techniques to identify pedestrian activities (including behavior), roadway features, and other contextual risk factors, e.g., land use, that are associated with pedestrian crashes; (2) identifying appropriate and cost-effective systemic pedestrian safety improvements to address their associated risk factors; and (3) enabling transportation agencies to prioritize candidate locations for selected safety improvements based on risk. The research results should aid transportation agencies in more effectively allocating resources for pedestrian safety improvements. The research should build on Element 1 of the FHWA Office of Safety’s Systemic Safety Project Selection Tool (http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/systemic/fhwasa13019/). The research will focus on existing countermeasures within the “4E framework”—education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency response—and will not include developing a software solution.

The research plan includes the following activities:
1. Provide an overview of the systemic safety planning process in the United States and identify gaps and deficiencies in the process related to improving pedestrian safety.
2. Summarize the state of practice and identify best practices in the United States and in other countries.
3. Identify traditional and nontraditional (beyond roadway and crash data) data sources, and assess the adequacy of pedestrian data that is available for systemic pedestrian safety analyses.
4. Data collection and analysis.
5. Determine potential risk factors—and their relative significance—associated with pedestrian-related crashes.
6. Identify potential countermeasures to address risk factors.
7. Develop a process for transportation agencies to identify risk factors specific to their network, identify appropriate countermeasures, and identify and prioritize candidate locations.
8. Provide two different examples of how the process can be used by transportation agencies.

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