An Overview and Recommendations of High-Visibility Crosswalk Marking Styles

Source: Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)

As policymakers continue to encourage active transportation in the United States, there is increasing importance by all road users to understand right-of-way laws. Also, engineers and planners should implement the most effective crosswalk marking patterns. The effect of various crosswalk marking patterns should also be understood, in terms of which ones are most effective at causing motorists to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. The purpose of this paper is to examine the past and current research on crosswalk marking design and to come to conclusions about the best types of marking patterns under various traffic and roadway conditions.

General crosswalk information is given in the paper, such as guidelines supplied by the Uniform Vehicle Code and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which provides a background of current recommendations in the United States for crosswalk design and installation. This paper also includes a brief description of the decades-long debate about whether uncontrolled crosswalks are safest for pedestrians when they are marked or unmarked. The paper then examines the current research about effective marking patterns. Different patterns' effects on pedestrian collisions and their relative visibility are discussed, as well as best practices from across the country and abroad.

We conclude that, because high-visibility markings are more easily detected by motorists and have been shown to lead to a reduction in pedestrian-vehicle collisions when compared to transverse line crosswalks, transportation agencies should install high-visibility markings at uncontrolled crossing locations whenever a determination is made to provide marked crosswalks. Installing the most visible crosswalk marking styles is important to increase the likelihood that approaching motorists will see marked crosswalks in time to become aware of the possibility of pedestrians crossing the street ahead. At crossing locations controlled by traffic signals or stop signs, the key recommendation is to mark all legs of the intersection with a crosswalk in order to indicate to pedestrians and motorists the preferred locations for pedestrians to cross. More broadly, policymakers in the United States need to come to a consensus on right-of-way laws for crosswalks. If all states are consistent in how they enforce crossing areas, pedestrian and motorist compliance with the rules of the road should also be more consistent, and improve.

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