Road signs are devices placed above, along, or beside a highway or pathway not only to regulate traffic flow but to also remind the drivers to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Yet, the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) shared that more than 270,000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world’s roads each year. It also reminded the public that the capacity to respond to pedestrian safety is a significant component of the world’s efforts to prevent road injuries.
Examining driver yielding behavior
In a new study conducted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the researchers shared that drivers of expensive cars are the most likely to ignore pedestrians. In their study titled “Estimated car cost as a predictor of driver yielding behaviors for pedestrians,” which appeared in the Journal of Transport and Health, authors Courtney Coughenour Ph.D. and colleagues wrote that they examined the driver yielding behavior by the cost of the car, gender, and skin color. Out of the 461 cars examined, only 27.8% of them yielded to pedestrians.
The results also showed that 31.33% of cars slowed for women compared to 24.06 percent for men. Drivers were likewise 5% more likely to yield for white people crossing the pedestrian lane than dark-skinned women and men trying to cross the road. This means that women with light-colored skin, who are trying to cross the street, may gain favorable treatment by drivers.
Coughenour and the team also found that the likelihood of vehicles to slow down for pedestrians decreased in line with the car’s approximate value. The odds that they would stop for pedestrians decreased by 3% per $1,000 increase in the car’s worth. The researchers used car pricing from Kelly Blue Book (KBB) categories. KBB is a California-based vehicle valuation and automotive research company. The vehicles’ year, model, make, and overall condition was considered in assessing its value. They also used the video data recorded during the pedestrian crossings and analyzed it to assess the general cost of every vehicle for their study.
A generalized linear mixed model for study analysis
The UNLV team shared that they used the generalized linear mixed model (GLMM), which is a linear predictor that contains random effects in addition to the usual fixed effects, for their study analysis. The purpose of this was to evaluate the average cost of the vehicle, street location, pedestrian gender, and pedestrian race. The GLMM, they added, helped them take the cluster effect within the road crossings into a multilevel structure. They marked level 1 as cars, level 2 as crossings, and level 3 as streets.
The authors highlighted that even if the official traffic-control devices are not in operation or place, drivers should still follow the right of way by stopping or slowing down when needed.
Coughenour said via science research platform Science Daily that it is concerning how pedestrians are facing challenges in terms of safety. “Drivers need to be made aware that they legally have to yield.” However, it is difficult to say whether or not they are yielding because they may not know the laws or they just don’t want to yield to pedestrians.
Road incidents and pedestrian safety: statistics
Our World in Data, a scientific online publication that focuses on large global problems, published the death rates from road incidents across the world and their data included cyclists and pedestrian deaths. The countries with the highest number of road accidents per 100,000 people in 2017 were the Central African Republic (85.5 deaths), Somalia (51.13), Oman (47.09), United Arab Emirates (49.92), Lesotho (44.98), Benin (41.6), Dominican Republic (30.03), Guinea-Bissau (32.64), Tunisia (30.16), Egypt (31.87), Sudan (30.38), Saudi Arabia (36.71), and Papua New Guinea (34.66). On the other hand, countries with the lowest number of deaths from road accidents in 2017 were Greenland (4.11 deaths per 100,000 individuals), Iceland (3.68), Norway (3.43), Sweden (3.11), Germany (4.51), United Kingdom (3.46), Spain (4.18), Canada (6.7), Finland (4.17), and Ireland (3.47), among others.
The WHO said that pedestrians constitute 22% of all road traffic fatalities in the world. In some countries, the proportion is as high as two-thirds of all the road traffic deaths. Moreover, millions of pedestrians are non-fatally injured but some people are left to live their lives with permanent disabilities as a result of pedestrian accidents. As much as it causes economic hardship in a country, pedestrian incidents also cause much grief and suffering to people.
The WHO mentions how pedestrian collisions should not be accepted by decision and policymakers as inevitable because they are both preventable and predictable. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also noted that 5,987 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the US in 2016. This averages at one crash-related pedestrian death every 1.5 hours. There were also nearly 129,000 pedestrians that were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal-crash related injuries a year prior.
People most at risk
The CDC said that pedestrians who are 65 years old and above are most at risk as they accounted for 20% of all pedestrian deaths in 2016 and about 15% of all pedestrians that were injured in 2015.
Meanwhile, database company Statista shared the total number of vehicles that were involved in urban traffic accidents with victims in Spain in 2018, by vehicle type as follows: bike (5,669), moped (6,288), motorcycle (22,063), car (67,265), van (6,434), light truck less than or equal to 3,500 kg (794), heavy truck, greater than 3,500 kg (935), bus (1,988), another vehicle (964), and unknown (1,099).
The UNLV said that their research has significant use to public health, considering that pedestrian survivability and injury are low even when people are hit at low speeds. At about 16mph impact speed, the average risk of severe injury for the person struck by a vehicle already reached 10%, 25% at 23mph, increased to 50% at 31 mph, 75% at 39 mph, and 90% at 46mph. This means that higher vehicle speeds will increase the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck by a car as well as the severity of an injury.
Both pedestrians and drivers share the responsibility to keep themselves as well as others on the road safe. By all means, people should obey traffic signals. Drivers, for their part, should also look out for pedestrians at all times and follow the speed limit required in locations with heavy pedestrian traffic.