Estimating Pedestrian Accident Exposure: Protocol Report


Walking is a healthful, environmentally benign form of travel, and is the most basic form of human mobility. Walking trips account for more than 8 percent of all trips taken in California, making walking the second most commonly used mode of travel after the personal automobile (Caltrans, 2002). In addition, many trips made by vehicle or public transit begin and end with walking.

In spite of the importance and benefits of walking, pedestrians suffer a disproportionate share of the harm of traffic incidents in California. As noted above, walking tripsmake up just 8 percent of all trips in the state, but 17 percent of all traffic fatalities are suffered by pedestrians. In 2004, 694 pedestrians were killed in the state of California and 13,892 were injured (California Highway Patrol, 2004).

To address this problem, significant resources are focused on countermeasures that aim to reduce the risk of pedestrian injury. Because resources are limited, risk analysis is necessary to develop cost-effective countermeasures (Hoj and Kroger,2002).

In the field of pedestrian safety, risk analysis involves assessing factors that contribute to the danger that a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle. These factors may include physical characteristics of the street, such as lack of sidewalks; behavioral issues, such as pedestrian or driver alcohol use; as well as other environmental variables. In order to fully understand how these factors contribute to risk, it is necessary to collect information on pedestrian exposure. Collection of pedestrian exposure information is an essential component of risk analysis.

Pedestrian exposure is a concept that refers to the amount that people are exposed to the risk of being involved in a traffic collision. In principle, pedestrians are exposed to this risk whenever they are walking in the vicinity of automobiles. There are many metrics that can be used to measure pedestrian exposure, but pedestrian volumes are the most frequently used.

Although many state, regional, and local agencies have developed methodologies to collect pedestrian volume data, there is no consensus on which method is best (Schneider et al., 2005; Schweizer, 2005). This is because there is no “one size fits all” method of counting pedestrians. Rather, the choice of strategy depends on a complex range of factors, including the characteristics of the area being studied; the resources available for data collection; and the specific purpose of data collection.

This protocol aims to improve pedestrian data collection in the state of California by providing information and guidance for each decision point in the data collection process. Each chapter represents one of these decision points, and each will guide the user through important considerations relevant to the data collection stage. In addition, each chapter provides a combination of real-world and hypothetical example scenarios to illustrate the issues discussed in the text.

Publication date: 
March 1, 2007
Publication type: 
Technical Report