AUSTIN, Texas. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, the number of pedestrian deaths that took place in the U.S. grew by 27 percent between 2007 and 2016. Of the states studied, Texas reported over 100 pedestrian deaths in a single year. In the nation, 5,987 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads and sidewalks in 2016. Many factors contribute to pedestrian accidents and injuries. Distracted driving, distracted walking, speeding, and drunk driving all contribute to these accidents. However, road design also plays a major role in pedestrian safety. How much of a role does it play?
According to QZ, New York City recently introduced rubber bumpers to some of its busiest intersections. Researchers found that, in intersections where the rubber bumpers were placed, that drivers slowed their speeds by 40%. The bumpers are strategically placed at the curb, forcing drivers to take wider turns and watch more carefully for pedestrians. By changing the flow of traffic in the city, street designers were able to take a potentially dangerous crosswalk and make it far safer.
The rubber bumpers prevent deaths and accidents from occurring. Will other cities implement them? It often comes down to political and financial will. While putting in bumpers isn’t very expensive relative to other solutions, it still costs money. Not a lot, though: QZ reports that they cost about $2,000 per intersection. This is nothing when you remember that we’re talking about pedestrian lives here. While Los Angeles and San Francisco are changing their intersection design to match New York City’s innovation, more cities could be following suit.
Why does the redesign work? Researchers have found that left turns are the most dangerous for pedestrians. Left turns resulted in three times more pedestrian and biker crashes than any other vehicle maneuver. While it was known that left turns accounted for 13% of New York City’s pedestrian deaths, researchers struggled to understand why, until recently.
Why are left turns so deadly? First of all, car design might be an issue. The frame of your car can create a blind spot to your left. Some car frames are wider than others, creating more of a blind spot. Secondly, left turns allow a car to take a wider radius turn, which means that the car can maintain more speed. Think about it, how fast were you going the last time you made a left turn and compare this to the speed at which you can comfortably turn right. Finally, drivers try to find the fastest way into the lane, which means that they might be more likely to cut corners. This can put them in pedestrian space more easily.
The re-design considers these risks and takes steps to mitigate them. Speed bumps slow drivers down and guard rails protect the crosswalk and prevent cars from taking short cuts.
New York’s success shows that cities can find low-cost solutions to their traffic dangers by taking a closer look at their crash data. What areas of Austin do you find dangerous? Have you been in a pedestrian accident in Austin? The Robson Law Firm is an Austin, Texas personal injury lawyer who is closely monitoring how street design can save lives. However, regardless of street design, drivers have a responsibility to exercise caution behind the wheel. If you have been hurt in a car accident in Austin, Texas, reach out to the Robson Law Firm today.
Robson Law Firm
1114 Lost Creek Boulevard
Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 345-8200
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