Benefit

Presence of pedestrian countdown signals in Michigan reduces crashes involving pedestrians age 65 years and older by 65 percent.

Study evaluates the effectiveness of pedestrian countdown signals (PCS) and their safety impacts on all pedestrians and pedestrians 65 years and above.


11/15/2015
Detroit,Michigan,United States; Grand Rapids,Michigan,United States; Kalamazoo,Michigan,United States; Lansing,Michigan,United States


Summary Information

This study, funded by the Michigan Department of Transportation and carried out by Western Michigan University, evaluated the safety effectiveness and quantified the associated economic benefits of PCSs on all pedestrians and pedestrians age 65 years and above. A perception survey was carried out to determine pedestrian preferences for PCSs whilst crash analysis using a before-after study with comparison group methodology was used to carry out the evaluation and ascertain the safety impacts of these devices. Economic analysis was finally conducted to estimate the benefits of PCSs.

Survey of drivers and pedestrians

A total of 1590 people participated in a two week perception survey of drivers and pedestrians that was conducted in four cities in Michigan (Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit) at grocery stores, restaurants, senior center and rest areas. Enlarged pictures of PCS and MDOT’s standard pedestrian signals were used to seek preference of the survey participants in three scenarios: (1) decision to start crossing, (2) decision to adjust walking speed, and (3) increasing feeling of safety.

Crash Analysis

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of PCSs on all and older pedestrians (65 years and older), a comparison group methodology was used for the before-after study. A total of 93 treated sites (locations with PCSs) were selected randomly from a list of intersections with PCSs in Michigan; additionally, a total of 97 comparison sites (locations without PCSs) were also selected. Geometric characteristics of the various intersections as well as other factors such as traffic data for both major and minor roads, type of intersection, median type, land use characteristics and number of lanes were some of the factors considered in choosing the comparison group. Crash data from comparison sites was then used to estimate crashes that would have occurred at the treated sites if these sites had no PCSs installed.

Economic Analysis

The benefit to cost analysis for the PCSs was done by determining the estimated crash reductions due to the presence of PCS from the crash modifications factor (CMF) and crash savings.

Findings
  • 91 percent of all participants who noticed the difference between PCS and MDOT’s standard pedestrian signal stated that the PCS was helpful when deciding to start crossing (similar results were found for the population over age 65).
  • 92 percent of all participants who noticed the difference between PCS and MDOT’s standard pedestrian signal stated that the PCS was useful in adjusting one’s walking speed while crossing (similar results were found for the population over age 65).
  • 92 percent of all participants who noticed the difference between PCS and MDOT’s standard pedestrian signal stated that the PCS was useful in increasing the feeling of safety (similar results were found for the population over age 65).
  • The crash analysis results indicated a nearly 32 percent reduction for all pedestrian crashes (all ages and all severities) and a reduction of 65 percent in total (all severities) crashes for pedestrians 65 years and above. An economic analysis conducted also showed a tremendous benefit-cost ratio of 122 to 1 for PCS.
  • The benefit to cost (BCR) ratio for the countdown signals was determined to be 122 to 1, based on savings gained in pedestrian crashes when compared to the cost of PCSs.

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Source

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Pedestrian Countdown Signals on the Safety of Pedestrians in Michigan

Author: Valerian Kwigizile, Richard Atta Boateng, Jun-Seok Oh, Kimberly Lariviere

Published By: Transportation Research Board

Source Date: 11/15/2015

URL: http://docs.trb.org/prp/16-4159.pdf

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Benefit ID: 2016-01097