Environmental Countermeasures for Alcohol-related Pedestrian Crashes

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #101 - 1996

Authors: B. Corben, K. Diamantopoulou, N. Mullan & B. Mainka

Full report in .pdf format [63.3 MB (warning large file)]

Abstract:

Alcohol-affected pedestrians involved in casualty crashes were identified as a significant road safety target group. Whilst pedestrian safety initiatives being implemented in Victoria have focused on the young and the older pedestrian age groups and have addressed behavioural issues, it was considered that greater attention should be given to improving the physical environment at locations where alcohol-affected pedestrian crashes tend to occur.

The major aims of the study were to identify environmental factors associated with alcohol-related pedestrian crashes in Melbourne, and to indicate a strategic approach for implementation of recommended environmental countermeasures which address the identified environmental factors. To achieve these aims, reported casualty crash data over the past ten years in Melbourne were analysed, and five sites in the metropolitan area which had experienced comparatively large numbers of alcohol-related pedestrian casualty crashes were investigated. Through these analyses and site investigations, predominant alcohol-related pedestrian crash types were identified, and corresponding measures with the potential to address each target crash type were proposed.

Based on these findings, a strategic approach to treating alcohol-related pedestrian crashes was recommended. The main elements of this approach involved systematic methods for identifying locations where the problem is greatest and/or more acute; a range of road environment countermeasures which target common alcohol-related pedestrian crash circumstances, and a range of countermeasures aimed at having a general effect. In addition, reference was made to indicative estimates of Benefit-to-Cost Ratios and Net Present Worth values to guide the development of a strategic countermeasure program.

Executive Summary:

This study developed from a VicRoads proposal and a subsequent recommendation in the project, Pedestrian Safety Issues for Victoria (Corben and Diamantopoulou, 1996). The study approach was also guided by findings from the reports of Accident Data Analysis to Develop Target Groups for Countermeasures (Cameron, 1992), which identified intoxicated pedestrians as a high risk-group, and The Role of Alcohol and Age in Predisposing Pedestrian Accidents (Alexander et al., 1990). Whilst the Victorian Road Safety Strategy had focused on the young and the older pedestrian age groups, and behavioural issues through such programs as 'Safe Routes to School', 'Walk With Care' and 'Responsible Serving of Alcohol', it was considered that the limited attention that has been given to improving the physical environment at locations where alcohol-affected pedestrian crashes occur, should be addressed.

The major aims of the study were to identify environmental factors associated with alcohol-related pedestrian crashes in Melbourne, and to indicate a strategic approach for implementation of recommended environmental countermeasures which address the identified environmental factors. To achieve these aims, reported casualty crash data over the past ten years in Melbourne were analysed and five sites in the metropolitan area which had experienced large numbers of alcohol-related pedestrian crashes were investigated. Through these analyses and site investigations, predominant alcohol-related pedestrian crash types were identified, and corresponding measures with the potential to address each target crash type were proposed.

Based on these findings a strategic approach to the treatment of alcohol-related pedestrian crashes was recommended. The main elements of the strategic approach involved a set of systematic methods for identifying locations where the problem is greatest and/or more acute; a range of road environment countermeasures which target common alcohol-related pedestrian crash circumstances, and a range of countermeasures aimed at having a general effect on the problem.

The environment factors and road environment countermeasures proposed for introduction at specific locations are outlined below:

Reduce pedestrian exposure to high crash risk by:

  • introducing traffic management measures to promote inherently safer routes
  • reducing excessive roadway widths

Simplify the crossing task for intoxicated pedestrians by:

  • providing highly responsive pedestrian-operated signals
  • providing medians or pedestrian refuges
  • providing well-maintained lane line markings to strengthen driver lane discipline

Improve driver responses to high crash risk by:

  • providing 'above-standard' street lighting
  • providing 'above-standard' skid resistant pavement surfaces
  • avoiding the need for vehicles to merge
  • installing symbolic pedestrian warning signs
  • undertaking police enforcement of safe pedestrian and driver behaviour

During high crash risk times, encourage greater pedestrian use of signals by:

  • making traffic signals highly responsive to pedestrian calls
  • automatically introducing pedestrian phases every cycle
  • improving the level-of-service of signals to pedestrians
  • erecting fences/barriers to direct pedestrians to cross-walks
  • relocating/modifying the use of hotel doorways

Improve the likelihood of safe driver responses at/near intersection signals by:

  • during periods of high crash risk, displaying red to all vehicle directions when there is zero traffic demand

Countermeasure options which should form part of a general approach to addressing the problems of alcohol-related pedestrian crashes are listed below: Reduce the incidence and degree of pedestrian intoxication by:

  • working with the liquor industry
  • implementing local publicity and/or mass media campaigns
  • working with selected welfare agencies
  • installing coin-in-the-slot breath testing machines in hotels/licensed premises

The final element of any strategy aimed at achieving the maximum crash savings at minimum cost is the estimation of economic worth of countermeasures before they are implemented. Reference is made to indicative estimates of Benefit-to-Cost Ratios (BCR's) and Net Present Worth (NPW's) values to guide the development of a strategic countermeasure program.

Although beyond the scope of the current study, it is recommended that countermeasure program development methods be established on the basis of ranking proposed countermeasures by the ratio of their estimated NPW to capital costs, as a means of maximising the road safety benefits per dollar invested in alcohol-related pedestrian crash countermeasures.

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