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Pedestrian safety in the United States

How public agencies are using technology to prevent fatalities and injuries on our roadways

Pedestrian safety has become a key initiative for many public agencies in recent years. Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Office of Highway Safety announced they conducted an investigation of 15 crashes that had resulted in pedestrian fatalities. Additionally, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has continued to provide resources and materials and work on projects aimed at reducing pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.

Photos courtesy of the Oakland Department of TransportationAccording to the most recent statistics from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), there were approximately 6,000 pedestrian fatalities in 2017, which closely resembled numbers presented by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which documented 5,987 pedestrian fatalities in 2016.

“Two consecutive years of 6,000 pedestrian deaths is a red flag for all of us in the traffic safety community. These high levels are no longer a blip but unfortunately a sustained trend,” GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins stated in a press release in February 2018. “We can’t afford to let this be the new normal.”

The efforts and reports from these agencies are just a few examples of the work being done to curb the high number of pedestrian fatalities. Many state departments of transportation (DOTs) are working to adopt “complete streets” policies, which aim to make roadways more walkable by changing infrastructure, including adding pedestrian crossings, building crossing islands, and raised medians.

In addition to changing policies and infrastructure, a number of private companies are working to develop tracking apps that can assist pedestrians in finding safer routes. Companies like Waze, HERE Technologies, Google Maps, and Apple Maps have created GPS-based applications that can be downloaded on users’ phones and shows data based on personal interest such as dining, shopping or activity preferences. The applications denote the safest routes and real-time traffic information to help people reach their destinations.

“A number of roadway infrastructure countermeasures have proven to greatly increase pedestrian safety, but this is still a national issue that will take a unified effort from those in the roadway safety infrastructure industry, including ATSSA members,” said ATSSA Senior Technical Advisor Eric Perry. “The association is working to educate the public on this problem and supporting efforts and initiatives being advanced to address it.”

Photos courtesy of the Oakland Department of Transportation

ATSSA is committed to exploring technologies related to pedestrian safety and advocating for safer roads across the country. Pedestrian safety was a member concern identified in 2018 during the 48th Annual Convention & Traffic Expo at ATSSA’s Circle of Innovation (ACOI), which gathered roadway safety infrastructure industry professionals together to identify roadway safety challenges.

Photos courtesy of the Oakland Department of Transportation

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