Pedestrian Safety Issues for Victoria

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #80 - 1996

Authors: B. Corben and K. Diamantopoulou

Full report in .pdf format [4.9MB]

Abstract:

This study has attempted to identify and develop a wide range of potential countermeasures for targeted application to common pedestrian crash problem types.

Recognising that few proven pedestrian safety strategies and countermeasures exist, this project, while setting out to achieve specific objectives, also endeavoured to be innovative in generating possible solutions to Melbourne's long-standing pedestrian crash problems along arterial roads. In particular, because conventional approaches appear relatively ineffective, countermeasure options have intentionally not been constrained by traditional views and established practices for managing traffic, for providing public transport services and for land use development along Melbourne's arterial roads.

The project aimed to systematically investigate locations and location types with clustering of pedestrian crashes over several years, to identify crash countermeasures and to recommend which countermeasures have the potential for widespread application to other locations with like-problems.

Countermeasure options were identified and, in the case of road and traffic engineering-based measures, were evaluated in terms of their estimated economic worth. Overall, economic benefits were estimated to be well in excess of costs and readily attainable along many of Melbourne's arterial roads.

Actions recommended to improve pedestrian safety include treating the locations investigated as part of this project and developing a program for implementing generic countermeasures. Specifically, high priority should be given to developing, implementing and evaluating generic countermeasures for high pedestrian activity arterial roads. Proposed countermeasures aim to reduce vehicle speeds and road widths, provide medians, especially along Melbourne's arterial tram routes; increase pavement skid resistance; improve pedestrian level-of-service at traffic signals; use fencing or other barrier types to guide pedestrians; change driver and pedestrian behaviour through targeted, high-profile publicity programs and/or using public transport vehicles and passenger stops; provide safer interaction between pedestrians/passengers and public transport services; target Police enforcement at risky behaviours, and develop local government pedestrian safety and land use planning strategies for high risk areas, with new and existing developments being subject to "safety impact assessments/statements".

It is concluded that, unless there is a willingness and commitment by society and responsible agencies to accepting some loss of traffic capacity and speed of vehicle movement, which may actually be marginal only and be largely confined to non-peak periods, only minor improvements to pedestrian safety can be expected.

Executive Summary

This study has identified and developed a wide range of potential countermeasures for targeted application to common pedestrian crash problem types. An important inference from this study is that few existing pedestrian safety strategies and countermeasures stand out as clearly successful. While progress in reducing serious pedestrian crashes has been very promising since 1990, observed reductions appear to have resulted from the general reduction in serious crashes (e.g. due to drink/driving and speed camera initiatives), rather than programs targeted specifically at pedestrians.

With this in mind, the project, while setting out to achieve specific objectives, sought to be innovative in generating solutions to Melbourne’s long-standing arterial road crash problems. In particular, because conventional approaches appear to have had little direct effect, countermeasure options have not been constrained by the traditional views and established practices for managing traffic, for providing public transport services or for land use development along Melbourne’s arterial roads.

This study aimed to capitalise on the successes of accident black spot programs, undertaken in Victoria, interstate and overseas, which have shown that targeting improvements to high crash frequency locations, routes and areas cost-effectively reduces casualty crashes at treated sites.

The two main aims of this project were to:

  • systematically investigate locations and location types with a high concentration of pedestrian crashes over several years, and
  • identify pedestrian crash countermeasures for the investigated locations and to recommend which countermeasures have the potential for widespread application to other locations with like-problems.

Countermeasure options were identified and, in the case of road and traffic engineering-based measures, were evaluated in terms of their estimated economic worth. Overall, the results indicated that virtually all proposed countermeasures would be economically worthwhile, delivering, even at modest levels of effectiveness, attractive economic benefits, well in excess of costs. If applied at other Melbourne locations with like-crash problems, the road safety benefits would build quickly across the road network.

While the emphasis of the study was on road and traffic engineering countermeasures, behavioural and, to a lesser extent, vehicle engineering measures were also considered. Recommended actions to improve pedestrian safety are:

  1. Treatment of Specific Hazardous Locations - implement and evaluate recommended countermeasures at the hazardous routes investigated as part of this project.
  2. Development of a Program for Implementing Generic Countermeasures - give high priority to developing, implementing and evaluating the following generic countermeasures because of their high potential to improve pedestrian safety in high activity arterial road environments:
  • reduce vehicle speeds by developing variable speed limit signing or by modifying the design of the road and the roadside;
  • reduce road widths, provide medians throughout hazardous sections of arterial roads and, in particular, develop a generic form of median, practical for use along the many Melbourne arterial roads served by trams;
  • provide distinctive skid resistant pavements to improve the braking capabilities of vehicles on both wet and dry surfaces, and to beneficially influence driver behaviour;
  • improve the level-of-service provided to pedestrians at traffic signals, by reducing signal cycle times, permitting late introduction (and re-introduction) of pedestrian walk phases, extending walk times and, at specific high risk intersections, installing flashing pedestrian warning displays to supplement existing displays;
  • install pedestrian fencing or other barrier types on the approaches to and departures from signalised and other pedestrian facilities, to encourage pedestrians to cross at these devices, rather than in the nearby zones of high risk;
  • develop high profile publicity programs to educate road users of the hazards to pedestrians crossing Melbourne’s arterial roads, particularly in strip shopping centre environments. Target programs at high risk pedestrian and driver groups;
  • develop, in conjunction with the Public Transport Corporation, road safety training programs for tram drivers and safer passenger boarding and alighting arrangements. Use the interior and exterior of trams and tram shelters on hazardous routes to target messages encouraging safe behaviour by both pedestrians and drivers;
  • target Police enforcement at unsafe behaviours by pedestrians and drivers, at high risk locations and at high risk times of the day and week;
  • develop local government pedestrian safety and land use planning strategies for strip shopping centres, to influence longer term outcomes in high risk areas, with new and existing developments being subject to “safety impact assessments/statements”.

The potential benefits are threefold. Firstly, benefits would accrue from implementing corrective measures at the locations investigated. Secondly, and more importantly, if the proposed measures are applied to like-problems elsewhere across the road network, crash savings will be cumulative and widespread. Thirdly, planning, design and traffic operational features which are intrinsically safer will not only save crashes, but will avoid the need for costly remedial treatments for problems which were predictable.

Resolution of the conflicting objectives which characterise high pedestrian activity routes is essential to successfully treating Melbourne’s long-standing pedestrian crash problem. The central issue in actually implementing some of these generic countermeasures is their incompatibility with maximising arterial road traffic flow. Unless there is a willingness and commitment by society and responsible agencies to accept some loss of capacity or speed of movement, which may actually be marginal only and be largely confined to non-peak traffic periods, there will be few genuine opportunities to improve pedestrian safety along Melbourne’s arterial roads.

Sponsoring Organisation: Baseline Research Program - Department of Justice, Transport Accident Commission, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) Ltd, VicRoads