20 March 2020

Yielding to Pedestrians

Welcome back. In a blog post here a few months ago, we learned that physicians of certain specialties were more likely to be ticketed for extreme speeding (20 mph over limit) and that luxury car ownership by speeding-ticketed physicians also differed by specialty (Which Physicians Speed?). At any rate, that's what goes on in Florida.

A midblock crosswalk
(from www.pe.com/2019/11/10/).
Today, we visit Las Vegas, where the urban design is characteristic of sprawl, including automobile-dominated development with long blocks and frequent midblock crosswalks.

Here, our focus is not speeding physicians but whether drivers yield to pedestrians at midblock crosswalks, as required by Nevada law. (Preview: Most drivers don’t.)

This photo of a Los Angeles crosswalk illustrates how drivers don’t always yield to pedestrians and how drivers might get impatient when pedestrians just keep coming (from www.losangeleswalks.org/los_angeles_pedestrian_bill_of_rights_1987).
Midblock Crosswalk Study
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, researchers conducted pedestrian crossing experiments at two midblock crosswalks. The two locations were similar in street design (zebra-striped, non-signaled, 35 mph speed limit, 4 vehicle lanes with a center turn lane) and area income characteristics.

The experiments took place 10 a.m. to noon on a Saturday and Sunday. Four participants acted as pedestrians attempting to cross the street at the crosswalks (two females, one white, one black, and two males, one white, one black).

The participants wore red T-shirts, were briefed on safety protocol and instructed on approaching the crosswalk and crossing the roadway. They were to cross only when no other pedestrians were present, step at least one foot off of the curb to indicate a clear intent to cross and attempt to make eye contact with the driver. The crossings were video recorded for analysis.

Driver Yielding Analysis
Each participant made 30 crossings at each midblock crosswalk; however, technical problems reduced the number of video-recorded crossing attempts to the following: Street 1 – black female, 22, white female, 29, black male, 0, white male, 29; Street 2 – black female, 30, white female, 23, black male, 27, white male, 30.

The researchers analyzed the video data to assess if vehicles yielded for the pedestrians and to estimate the cost of the vehicles based on Kelly Blue Book pricing categories (vehicle make, model, year and condition).

They applied a generalized linear mixed model to evaluate if the average vehicle cost (in thousands), pedestrian gender, pedestrian race and street location were associated with whether or not drivers yielded.

Wrap Up

Of 461 vehicles observed, only 129 (28%) yielded to pedestrians. Cars yielded more frequently for females than males (31% vs 24%) and for whites than blacks (31% vs 25%). Vehicle cost was a significant predictor. The odds that a driver would yield dropped about 3% for every $1000 increase in vehicle cost.

Discussing the results, the researchers state that, without interviewing the drivers, it’s impossible to understand the reason for not yielding. I agree, yet, having stood by the roadside doing traffic counts when I was an undergrad, I thought they could have at least tried to tally the gender, race and general age of the drivers to gauge any effect on yielding.

Nevertheless, the results are in line with earlier studies and point to the need for improved education and engineering and increased enforcement. This is likely to be especially true for midblock crosswalks.

Although this midblock crosswalk lacks a signal, the signs, advance-yield road markings and refuge island are significant safety improvements (from pedbikesafe.org/PEDSAFE/countermeasures_detail.cfm?CM_NUM=13).
Thanks for stopping by. Drive safely.

Study of yielding at midblock crosswalks in Jour. of Transport & Health:
Article on study on EurekAlert! website: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-02/uonl-doe022620.php

1 comment:

  1. In Australia and New Zealand, if drivers think you look like you are even considering crossing the road in a crosswalk, they stop. Amazing!