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Directions in Highway Safety, Fall 2007 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
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Fall 2007 | Vol. 10 | No. 3

New Study Finds Traffic Signals Too Fast for Older Pedestrians

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AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study in September showing that many traffic signals do not allow sufficient time for older pedestrians (defined as those aged 65 and older) to cross the street.

Researchers at the Institute of Transportation Engineers and Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. analyzed pedestrians crossing the street in six communities across the United States. In many cases, they found that if a signal were timed according to the current edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), more than 15 percent of older pedestrians would not have enough time to cross the street.

Signal Study Cover

The study concluded that older pedestrians tended to walk at least a half a foot per second slower than their younger counterparts. This means that an older pedestrian crossing a busy, six-lane urban street (or a four lane street with on-street parking) would still have almost another full lane to cross, compared with a younger counterpart who would have made it across safely in the allotted time.

Researchers also performed computer-based traffic simulations to find out whether signal timing could be modified. In most cases, they found that modifying the signal timing would cause excessive traffic delays.

The study results provide substantial new findings that may impact the next version of the MUTCD, which is scheduled for revision in 2009.

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