Driver/Pedestrian Understanding and Behavior at Marked and Unmarked Crosswalks


Pedestrian injuries at crosswalk locations represent a significant problem. In 2002, 22.7 percent of US pedestrians involved in collisions were in a crosswalk at the time of the collision, and over 96% of these occurred at an intersection. Almost all crosswalk collisions resulted in pedestrian injury or fatality (98.6 percent), and about one-third resulted in severe or fatal injury (National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) and General Estimates System (GES) 2002). As the owner of the California State Highway System, Caltrans is responsible for providing access to safe and convenient travel for pedestrians as users of a shared roadway network. Inadequate pedestrian safety in marked crosswalks at unsignalized intersections continues to challenge transportation engineers and planners. Results from thirty years of numerous localized studies have been confirmed by a nationwide study which indicate that marked crosswalks across multilane roads with travel volumes exceeding 10,000 average daily traffic (ADT) present a higher accident risk for pedestrians than do unmarked crossings. Many other agencies around the nation have addressed this by removing marked crosswalks at unsignalized intersections. This approach results in unacceptable pedestrian mobility restrictions and should not be embraced as Caltrans’ policy. The Traffic Safety Center (TSC) at the University of California, Berkeley, recently completed an extensive study of pedestrian and driver knowledge of right-of-way laws. This study focused on identifying potential human factors explanations for the crosswalk dilemma. Several statistically significant differences in marked versus unmarked crosswalks were identified: (1) Pedestrians and drivers lack an accurate knowledge of right-of-way laws related to marked versus unmarked crosswalks at unsignalized intersections. (2) Pedestrians and drivers exhibit different behaviors in marked versus unmarked crosswalks on multi-lane, higher volume roads. In this report we will present our research and offer recommendations and analyses of countermeasures to improve pedestrian crosswalk safety.

Ragland, David R.
Publication date: 
July 1, 2007
Publication type: 
Journal Article