"Understanding Crashes and Safe Behaviors to Help Prevent Them" Video Series

Source: Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)

People walking and biking account for a growing share of total US traffic fatalities while fatalities for people inside a vehicle has been decreasing. Crashes between a driver and a pedestrian or bicyclist typically occur due to a complex set of factors. Roadway design, vehicle design, environmental conditions, and other factors may all contribute to a life-threatening event. The most effective approach to preventing crashes is to eliminate or minimize exposure to crash risk, and develop accessible spaces to walk and bike through roadway design and engineering. This approach requires funding, time, and many other resources that may be challenging for cities or towns and create barriers to implementing roadway changes quickly. See the role of roadway design below for more information.

In the meantime, there are actions road users can take to help people move around safely. While pedestrians and bicyclists are encouraged to practice safe behaviors while walking and biking, it’s important to note that a driver’s behavior has more of an impact on people who walk and bike, and in a crash, pedestrians and bicyclists are at a higher risk for serious injuries and deaths than vehicle occupants due to their vulnerability of exposure and lack of vehicle protection features.

Education and learning about crash scenarios, specifically types of roadway design and road user maneuvers, can also help prevent crash scenarios.

The crash video series portrays common situations that lead to a crash between a driver and a pedestrian or bicyclist. The videos show the crash from each road user perspective, and offers actions for avoiding the crash. Illustrating these scenarios and demonstrating how they unfold may help road users better anticipate and apply safe behaviors to these scenarios when driving, walking, and biking.

Below the videos, see the role of roadway design, ideas on how different groups might use the videos to reach specific audiences, and resources for more information about roadway design.

Driver Turning Left into a Pedestrian
When a left turning driver hits a pedestrian who is crossing the street.

Driver Striking Pedestrian in a Crosswalk on a Multilane Road
When a driver in one lane yields to a pedestrian crossing the street, but the driver in the next lane does not.

Driver Turning Right into a Bicyclist
When a driver and bicyclist are traveling in the same direction and the driver turns right, crashing into the bicyclist.

Driver Passing a Bicyclist
When a driver passes a bicyclist too closely, either striking the bicyclist or causing the bicyclist to lose control or balance.

All Crashes Video
A longer video compilation of all crash scenarios.


The role of roadway design

Safe infrastructure for walking and biking has not been prioritized within transportation design, which has historically focused on accommodating motor vehicle-based travel. This has led to barriers and challenges that prevent people from walking and biking safely. This can be seen quite literally, for instance, in areas with few or no sidewalks, or disconnected sidewalks. Other challenges may be harder to visually see, such as in the case of when poor design and planning actually encourages unsafe behaviors. Speeding, for example, is an unsafe behavior that is enabled when road design supports high motor vehicle speed and strategies to decrease speed are not employed.

The crash video series calls attention primarily to road user behaviors that contribute to a crash. To prevent crashes, roadway design and operations need to reinforce and guide the desired behaviors, such as by implementing traffic calming measures.

See resources on roadway design and operations:

PEDBIKESAFE: Provides an introduction to roadway measures to improve safety and mobility for walking and biking, as well as example installations and an interactive tool to help determine appropriate measures for different roadway contexts.

FHWA Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) Program: Promotes strategies and seven countermeasures proven to reduce severe pedestrian crashes.

NHTSA Countermeasures That Work: A Highway Safety Countermeasure Guide for State Highway Safety Offices summarizes the effectiveness of various countermeasures for all types of risky road behavior and includes subsections on strategies for pedestrians and bicyclists.

PBIC Crash Types Webinar Series

NCSL State laws on passing bicyclists provides more information on safely passing bicyclists and State statutes regarding motorists passing bicyclists.

Ideas for Using the Crash Video Series

New driver instruction

Use the crash video series in a classroom environment to engage student drivers. Consider pausing the videos to engage students in dialogue, such as:

  • How can drivers help prevent crashes with pedestrians and bicyclists in these cases?
  • What actions may be missing from each of the road users (i.e. failure to check mirrors)?
  • What are the relevant state or local laws?
  • How do the situations relate to local roads?

Outreach to community members

Use the crash video series to:

  • Connect behavior or crash type to a local roadway and the need for engineering improvements to encourage safer use.
  • Enhance understanding of a problem when used in combination with community or neighborhood assessments and crash data.
  • Train employees or college or graduate students in the field of engineering, planning, and injury prevention.

Law enforcement officer trainings

Use the crash video series to:

  • Help officers better understand the perspective and safety risks to pedestrians and bicyclists, or in relation to other traffic safety issues, such as driver speeding.
  • Identify high risk areas for people walking and biking to understand infrastructure and roadway design changes that are needed.
  • Use for public community education and outreach to increase awareness.

Video Development

The "Understanding Crashes and Safe Behaviors to Help Prevent Them" Video Series was developed by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center and Civic Eye Collaborative. The video series was informed by a Steering Committee of road safety professionals with diverse backgrounds including Shannon Purdy (NHTSA Region 2), Brent Jennings (transportation engineer, retired), Brett Railey (law enforcement, retired), and Connie Sessoms (American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association). It was also reviewed by USDOT staff including Ruth Esteban-Muir (NHTSA), Wesley Blount (FHWA), and Christopher Douwes (FHWA).

This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under Cooperative Agreement No. DTFH61-16-H-00029. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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