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Forum: Pedestrian Safety -

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Panel Descriptions
 
 

 
 

Session 1: Understanding Pedestrian Safety

Many aspects of data inform our understanding of pedestrian safety. The metric of pedestrian fatalities is alarming because it represents 15 percent of all highway fatalities. Moreover, the figure of 4,700 annual pedestrian deaths on public roads is an undercount of the actual number of people killed by moving vehicles because private roads, work sites, farms, etc., are not included in the NHTSA count. We cannot fully understand the changes in pedestrian fatalities and injuries year to year because we lack good exposure numbers. Good exposure numbers would help us understand how many walking trips underlie the annual fatalities and injuries. How have walking trends changed over the years? How does urban pedestrian traffic differ from rural? Understanding the pedestrian safety problem well enough to design ways to fix it requires many new data inputs. In addition to examining the metrics of pedestrian safety, the first session of the forum will consider the data needs of a community that wants to design an effective pedestrian safety plan. It will also shed light on some innovative approaches that communities are trying to improve exposure measures.

Session 2: Planning Safer Streets for Pedestrians

In recent decades, public road projects have been prioritized based on automobile through-put metrics for level of service and driver convenience. As the most vulnerable road users, pedestrians need special consideration for safe travel along and across our public roads. With the recent passage of a long-term highway funding bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), we now have a federal policy for “Complete Streets” to accommodate all roadway users. The panel will discuss how policies guide the way our roads are planned, funded, designed, and built. With participant experience in federal, state, and urban transportation planning, this panel will consider how communities adopt a framework for pedestrian safety. The discussion will address federal DOT initiatives to promote infrastructure improvements, integrated design solutions, and road diets to curtail speeding. Moreover, because different social groups experience different levels of risk, the panel will discuss how our policies address the safety needs of special groups of public road users, including children, the elderly, residents who are not native language speakers, and persons with disabilities.

Session 3: Enhancing Pedestrian Safety Through Design and Countermeasures

Traffic engineering has traditionally been organized around the three E’s: engineering, education, and enforcement; more recently, two more have been added to the list — encouragement and evaluation. The FHWA has identified three countermeasures that have a direct connection to pedestrian safety: medians and pedestrian crossing Islands in urban and suburban areas, pedestrian hybrid beacons, and road diets and traffic calming changes that reconfigure the roadway . Through its Division Offices, the FHWA has recommended these countermeasures to state highway safety programs. Because states use evidence-based processes when making design decisions, they have developed a history of evaluating these countermeasures. This panel will consider these recommended countermeasures, as well as the many other highway engineering  and design processes that are used to identify context-sensitive traffic control improvements both here and abroad. 

Session 4: Improving Pedestrian Safety Through Vehicle Technology

The last two decades have witnessed the rise of vehicle-based technologies designed to prevent crashes. Some of these technologies, such as adaptive headlights, can improve overall roadway safety but also help a driver to more quickly detect the most vulnerable roadway users—pedestrians. More recently, auto manufacturers have begun developing technologies that focus primarily on pedestrian safety. Some of those improvements, such as vehicle hood design, are intended to ameliorate injuries to pedestrians, once an impact has occurred. Other improvements, such as automated pedestrian detection systems that can identify vehicle‑pedestrian conflicts and engage autonomous braking, aim to prevent such impacts completely. This panel will discuss currently available and upcoming vehicle-based countermeasures, as well as their effectiveness and limitations. Because this is the final panel of the forum, the concluding discussion will also review the day’s deliberations, summarize key findings, and consider the future of pedestrian safety.




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