For more than thirty years, pedestrian safety studies have considered pedestrian-vehicle collision patterns and pedestrian and driver behavior at marked and unmarked crosswalks at uncontrolled crossings. Recent research in this area conducted by the UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center [aka SafeTREC] on behalf of Caltrans, and summarized in a 2008 Transportation Research Record paper by Mitman et al., “The Marked Crosswalk Dilemma: Uncovering Some Missing Links in a 35-Year Debate,” was designed to fill key gaps in the literature by analyzing driver/pedestrian behavior and knowledge of right-of-way laws regarding marked and unmarked crosswalks.
The Caltrans study, as with most previous crosswalk studies, focused on urban and suburban areas (in this case the San Francisco Bay Area), where the driver and pedestrian characteristics do not change significantly from day to day. Following this study was the recognition that similar research was needed in rural/recreational locations where the population frequently changes. As such, this paper summarizes results from field observations of driver and pedestrian behavior at marked and unmarked crosswalks at uncontrolled crossings during the summer in the Tahoe Basin of California.
This study, also funded by Caltrans, concludes that the behavior trends identified in the urban/ suburban Bay Area study are largely similar in a rural/recreational context. This finding is significant for Caltrans, a statewide agency that is seeking to provide a consistent crosswalk installation/ treatment policy for its facilities across California. Other regional and state agencies may similarly benefit from this study.