The Role of Law Enforcement in Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Programs

Law enforcement is a key component of efforts to ensure safe and secure travel options. Law enforcement agencies have a role to play in setting policies; raising awareness about safety issues; influencing behaviors and social norms; and reinforcing and supporting educational and engineering programs and strategies. The following list of resources provide a starting point for understanding the role of law enforcement, state and local practices, and research evaluating enforcement-related efforts.

Program Guidance

Everyone Walks: Understanding and Addressing Pedestrian Safety: This resource includes a series of webinars and a 2016 Governors Highway Safety Association report on the status of pedestrian safety laws, research, programs, and funding. If you are new to the subject matter, this is a great place to start because the report is comprehensive and includes links to many pertinent resources and agencies.

Advancing Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety: A Primer for Highway Safety Professionals: This NHTSA primer provides a high-level overview of education, engineering, and enforcement treatments (and how they interac) to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety. It includes a glossary of terms, key resources, and recommendations on ways that state and local agencies can develop more integrated, comprehensive safety programs.

A Resident's Guide for Creating Safer Communities for Walking and Biking: This FHWA toolkit is aimed at community members who are interested in improving pedestrian and bicycle safety. It includes fact sheets, strategies, and resources, including template and sample materials to support education, enforcement, and other efforts.

An Overview of Automated Enforcement Systems and Their Potential for Improving Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety: This Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) white paper explores the implications that automated enforcement systems, specifically red-light cameras and automated speed enforcement systems, can have on pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Enforcement and Education Program Examples

New Jersey's Street Smart Pedestrian Safety Campaign: This website provides information regarding pedestrian-related laws in New Jersey and resources for enforcement such as palm cards, videos, a how-to guide on implementing Street Smart NJ campaign, and many bilingual resources.

North Carolina's Watch for Me NC Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program: This website provides an overview of the North Carolina program, including annual reports and community profiles, links to educational and media materials, safety information, and resources for the media. Click here for a draft compendium of eight case studies from the Watch for Me NC program.

Resources for Officers

Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations: A How-To Guide: This NHTSA guide provides an explanation of pedestrian safety enforcement operations (location, outreach, tactics for conducting operations, staffing, etc.) and case studies from six communities.

Pedestrian Safety Training Materials for Law Enforcement (Online Course): This web-based course offers guidance for law enforcement professionals on common pedestrian safety issues, relevant laws, enforcement operation best practices, and methods for improving crash investigation reporting. Contact Paula Bawer for more information.

Research Studies and Evaluations

Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2015 Preliminary Data: This Governors Highway Safety Association report offers statistics and infographics about pedestrian traffic fatalities as of 2015.

High-Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance with Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws: This NHTSA-funded study evaluated driver yielding responses to a year-long high-visibility enforcement program conducted in Gainesville, Florida.

The Effect of High-Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance with Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws: 4-Year Follow-Up: This is a follow-up NHTSA report on the long-term impact of high-visibility enforcement operations in Gainesville, Florida.

Effect of a Community-Based Pedestrian Injury Prevention Program on Driver Yielding Behavior at Marked Crosswalks: This Accident Analysis and Prevention article summarizes key behavioral outcomes related to a safety program, Watch for Me NC, which began in North Carolina as a NHTSA-funded demonstration project. For full reports for each year of the Watch for Me NC program, click here.

Advancing Pedestrian Safety Using Education and Enforcement in Pedestrian Focus Cities and States: Chicago: This report summarizes the pedestrian enforcement and education campaign conducted by the Chicago Department of Transportation as part of a NHTSA-funded demonstration program.

Countermeasures That Work: A Highway Safety Countermeasure Guide for State Highway Safety Offices, 8th Edition: This resource summarizes the effectiveness of various countermeasures for all types of risky road behavior and includes sub-sections on strategies for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Learn More

What Communities Can Do to Enforce Laws

What Police Can Do to Enforce the Laws

Reviewing and Modifying Pedestrian and Bicycle Laws

Working with Law Enforcement Officers

Developing Procedures to Handle Violators

Implementing Enforcement Campaigns

Aiming Enforcement at Motorists

Media's Role in Enforcement

Enforcement Examples and Case Studies

Enforcement Resources and Research