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Once you have analyzed your local problem and established a baseline for measuring effectiveness, you should consider possible responses to address the problem. The following responses provide a foundation of ideas for addressing your particular pedestrian-vehicle crash problem. Several of these responses may be applicable to your community's problem. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis of your local conditions. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving such a problem. Do not limit yourself to considering what police can do: carefully consider whether others in your community share responsibility for the problem and can help police better respond to it. In some cases, you may need to be shift the responsibility to those who can implement more-effective responses. For example, it might be that redesigning an intersection may be the most effective response. In such a circumstance nonpolice public agencies and private organizations will have to do most of the work in carrying out the response. (For more detailed information on shifting and sharing responsibility, see Response Guide No. 3, Shifting and Sharing Responsibility for Public Safety Problems.)
The following are some general considerations that may help you develop and implement an effective response strategy.1. Designating a special pedestrian-safety taskforce within your agency. If pedestrian safety problems are common and serious, then it may be worth considering creating of a special group to address these problems. Because the pedestrian behaviors that lead to crashes are often minor, police officers sometimes ignore them. A special group can give them the priority they deserve and can have the flexibility to devise creative responses, based on analysis, that have an impact on the problems.
This guide has focused on two actors involved in the process of a pedestrian-vehicle crash: the pedestrian and the driver. It has also focused on the physical environment immediately around these two actors' interaction. We can usefully expand the ideas the pedestrian-vehicle crash triangle summarizes by considering the process by which these crashes take place. Figure 3 depicts this process.
Before pedestrians and drivers are in the same environment, either or both have acted early to either help prevent a crash or make it more likely. Examples of this include drinking, talking on a cell phone, or speeding. As the two actors converge, their earlier decisions influence what they can do just before a potential crash. We call these the immediate actions. Some immediate actions help prevent the crash (e.g., looking both ways before crossing, crossing at the light, slowing down when pedestrians appear to be trying to cross the road, etc) while others make the crash more likely (e.g., darting off the curb).
The physical environment plays a large role here. A barricade, for example, can prevent a drunken pedestrian from crossing a car's path. The physical environment includes all the proximate physical circumstances that can facilitate or prevent a crash (e.g., signs, signals, barriers, curbs, cars parked at curbs, ice, lighting conditions). The agents' interaction in this environment determines if a crash will occur.
Finally, as the actors separate, there is the aftermath to consider. If the crash was avoided, the aftermath might simply be some jangled nerves. If there is a crash, the aftermath includes the injuries sustained, vehicle damage, traffic congestion, etc. As this guide focuses on prevention, we have not addressed the aftermath here. Nevertheless, a problem-solver might want to consider whether changing how the aftermath is handled—by drivers, pedestrians, police, emergency medical services, emergency room staff, and others—could reduce the harm from crashes that do occur. For example, if a substantial number of drivers leave the scene of crashes without reporting to police (hit-and-run), this problem might require separate examination.
The process model is useful for three reasons. First, the model can help you consider the major factors involved in a particular pedestrian-vehicle crash problem. Second, it can help you organize a list of important questions regarding each component of the crash process. Third, the model can help your agency better formulate responses by considering all areas where they could address the problem (e.g., drivers' early decisions, pedestrians' immediate decisions). (See Appendix C, "Developing a Comprehensive Response to Pedestrian-Vehicle Crashes.") The responses this guide next discusses target several components of the process model.
The process model suggests five separate intervention points for a comprehensive response to a pedestrian-vehicle crash: two each for the two actors—to influence early and immediate actions—and one for the physical environment. The responses that follow influence one or more of these five points (we have labeled pedestrian and driver interventions as "early" and "immediate" to show how they fit into this process). Though you should not neglect the aftermath, it is important to remember that preventing the crash in the first place should be the primary goal.
Some evaluation research studies directly examine the problem of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Many of these analyses, however, report mixed results regarding the effectiveness of certain responses. And researchers have not evaluated some responses. For these reasons, many of the following responses are suggested because of their potential effectiveness for particular circumstances, rather than for widespread applicability. It is important that you continually evaluate your response to assess its impact in your particular community.
This set of responses addresses both early and immediate actions.5. Establishing hotspot-specific crackdowns on jaywalking (immediate). As mentioned, pedestrians might jaywalk if they do not perceive any consequences for their actions. Therefore, your agency could consider increasing the priority of jaywalking enforcement. This approach works best under five conditions:
It is also important to note that enforcement crackdowns are seldom sustainable for long periods, so you should best consider crackdowns as a short-term response and not a long-term solution. Consider them to be a short-term supplement to other longer-term responses.
There is some evidence, however, that jaywalking enforcement programs may not achieve much deterrence. As mentioned above, one report described the "crackdown" that New York City waged on jaywalking during the late-1990s. Nonetheless, this effort to step up jaywalking enforcement seemed to go unnoticed by both police authorities and citizens. In fact, the same article noted that the president of the police officers' union claimed he had forgotten about the crackdown, while at the same time, dozens of jaywalking New Yorkers said they had seen no change in jaywalking enforcement.
Finally, although jaywalking and other types of pedestrian behavior have been emphasized as major factors in pedestrian injuries and fatalities, it is important not to confuse the ends and means of the problem. In other words, your agency's goal should be to reduce pedestrian encounters with moving vehicles, not necessarily to reduce jaywalking. Therefore, be mindful that you should frame responses aimed at pedestrian behavior in the context of reducing actual pedestrian injuries and fatalities, rather than part of a more general crime control strategy.6. Launching location-specific pedestrian-safety education/awareness campaigns (early). Some pedestrians might not accurately perceive the risk of injury or fatality from a collision with a vehicle. Consequently, they engage in risky behavior. Pedestrian-safety education/awareness campaigns are a way to alert the public to the dangers of such behavior.56 Some campaigns appear to be effective. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed an educational video ("Willie Whistle") intended to teach kindergarteners to third-graders safe crossing practices. An evaluation of the campaign revealed that "dart-and-dash" collisions involving four- to six-year-olds were reduced by 30 percent in test cities.57 In addition, you could target safety campaigns toward unsafe driver behavior. Materials that could help in designing such campaigns are currently available. For a start, see the web resources for improving pedestrian safety in Appendix B.
In some cities, citizen groups have also created awareness campaigns against jaywalking. For example, volunteers in Shanghai, China have monitored some of the city's crosswalks.58 These citizens believe that figurative "whistle-blowing" can improve public awareness of the problem of jaywalking.
Education/awareness campaigns are more successful when they target people who are directly at risk of the problem.§ For instance, if the problem involves a particular high school where students jaywalk at the school's opening and closing times, then the campaign should focus on those students and not on students in other, low-risk schools. In addition, you should isolate the awareness campaign's geographic coverage to problem areas. Using the same example, the message will be more effective if delivered at or near the intersections where the problem occurs, rather than only in school assemblies, for instance. General public-safety campaigns targeting the larger community are largely ineffective, as most people are unaffected by the problem, and the few that are affected forget about the message before they need to apply it.
§ See Response Guide No. 5, Crime Prevention Publicity Campaigns.7. Coordinating crossing devices to facilitate uninterrupted walking paths (immediate). Some urban pedestrians disobey crossing devices because of their pace of life. These "rushed" pedestrians may have less need to cross against a "Don't Walk" signal when crossing systems allow for an uninterrupted walking sequence. This response could be inexpensive, as it only involves manipulating crossing-device timing. However, one possible drawback of this response could be increased traffic congestion. Furthermore, coordinating crossing devices at certain locations could be difficult if there is a mix of both pedestrians with and without limited mobility. In other words, the timing of a particular crossing sequence might not accommodate all types of pedestrians.
Addressing Pedestrians’ Early Actions: Bar Management and Pedestrian Safety in Shawnee, Kansas
In some circumstances, bars’ serving practices combine with street crossing configurations and traffic flow to create dangerous situations. In this example, a police effort to reduce calls from a problem bar seems to have had the positive side effect of reducing pedestrian-vehicle crashes. The Shawnee Police Department’s crime analyst, Susan Smith, had identified one bar we will call “Ferro’s” as the source of a very high number of calls, particularly involving assaults.
Ferro’s was located on a major thoroughfare. The bar attracted a very large crowd, but patrons had to park on the far side of the thoroughfare. Large numbers of patrons, therefore, crossed the road sober and returned to their cars drunk.
To reduce the violence calls, police put pressure on the owners to improve their bar management practices. Among the many changes the owners introduced was a reduction in the number of patrons, which lessened the crowding and accompanying provocations leading to fights. Though the police looked into ways to move the parking area to the same side of the street as Ferro’s, they were unsuccessful.
Nevertheless, the bar management improvements may have reduced pedestrian-vehicle crashes, as can be seen in the accompanying table. Smith’s work and police pressure to change Ferro’s practices began in May 2004. If the figures for 2005–06 are indicative of future crashes, then changing bar management reduced the problem from two thirds to three quarters of the 2002–04 levels. The decline might be due to fewer patrons’ crossing the street, or to patrons’ being less inebriated when returning to their vehicles. In either case, if a random fluctuation did not cause the drop in crashes, it seems quite likely that the drop was due to changes in bar practices, as there were no other changes in the immediate area that could have caused this drop.
Source: Smith (2005–2007).
All of these responses address early decisions, though one also influences immediate decisions. Because of drivers' isolation in their vehicles and the speed they are traveling, it is difficult to craft immediate responses directed drivers. The physical environment responses, shown later, have immediate effects on drivers and/or pedestrians.10. Enforcing speeding violations and other unsafe driver behaviors at high-risk locations (early). Since pedestrians are more likely to be injured or killed as vehicle speeds increase, police could establish speed zones and increase the number of speeding citations at high-risk locations.§ One way to establish a speed zone could be to install traffic cameras at problem intersections. In addition, local court authorities should aggressively enforce violations related to pedestrian safety. Beyond speeding enforcement, police should also issue citations for unsafe driver behavior that could put pedestrians at risk at intersections (e.g., running red lights, turning on red without looking, failing to yield right-of-way to pedestrians). The more focused enforcement is at high-risk places, and the more the community understands the reasons for the enforcement, the less likely it is to create pressure from the public to curtail the enforcement. As with pedestrian enforcement, you should consider speed enforcement a temporary strategy supporting a longer-term solution.
A Combined Response to Pedestrian-Vehicle Crashes in San Diego 79In 1998, the city of San Diego experienced 24 fatal crashes involving pedestrians, with pedestrians' being at fault 80 percent of the time. In 1999, the city experienced a 50 percent increase in fatal crashes involving pedestrians, with pedestrians' being at fault 72 percent of the time. Analysts discovered that the problem disproportionately occurred along two main streets.
Police used the SARA (Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment) process to address the problem. Following analysis, the San Diego Police Department developed a response that included enforcement, education, and engineering strategies.The strategy involved these elements:
Enforcement: A multiunit approach to aggressive jaywalking enforcement resulted in 859 pedestrian-officer contacts.
Education: Officers from the Traffic Safety Office developed a brochure outlining pedestrian safety and responsibility. In addition, media coverage highlighted the problem of pedestrian-vehicle crashes, applicable laws, and the police department's response.
Engineering: The problem was related to midblock bus stops, where riders exited and crossed the street midblock rather than walking to the nearest pedestrian-regulated intersection. Therefore, the city moved eight different bus stops from midblock locations closer to intersections (thereby increasing the use of marked crosswalks and pedestrian signals).
Later evaluation revealed that there was nearly a 20 percent reduction in the pedestrian-vehicle crash rate in the project area.