Bollards and rubber curbs that prevent drivers from cutting across intersections at a diagonal can make streets safer for pedestrians, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Such “centerline hardening” forces drivers to turn more slowly at close to a right angle by blocking the diagonal path through the crosswalk. In Washington, D.C., the infrastructure changes reduced the number of times drivers had to swerve or brake suddenly or pedestrians had to dodge out of the way by 70 percent, says IIHS Senior Research Transportation Engineer Wen Hu, the author of the paper.
“This study suggests that simple infrastructure changes can deliver big benefits,” Hu says. “Communities looking for ways to make pedestrians safer should add centerline hardening to their toolbox.”
The calming infrastructure also resulted in a reduction in average left-turn speeds and decreased the odds that drivers made the turn at speeds exceeding 15 mph.
Pedestrian fatalities rose 53 percent from 2009 to 2018 and now account for 17 percent of traffic deaths nationwide. In response, cities across the United States have launched Vision Zero programs aimed at eliminating all such fatalities by passing laws aimed at curbing aggressive driving and by looking at ways to improve road designs.
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