New York and San Francisco have both made national news for their Vision Zero programs, which aim to significantly reduce the number of pedestrian deaths over the next decade (its name connotes the ideal goal which is to eliminate all pedestrian deaths). Now studies that have been done in association with the plans indicate that the types of drawings depicted on signs could also have a big impact on pedestrian safety.
Traditionally, drivers throughout the country see signs alerting them to pedestrians that depict a pair of people walking with a yellow background. However, the recent study shows that signs depicting stick figures moving more rapidly is more likely to increase drivers’ awareness of potential pedestrians and their perception of the risk at the crossing area. Additionally, signs that have white backgrounds with red outlines are more likely to be noticed and heeded than those with yellow backgrounds and black outlines.
Basically, the idea is that more perceived movement increases the driver’s risk perception, which leads to earlier stopping and greater attention to what’s happening at an approaching intersection. More dynamic signs are more likely to grab the attention of motorists. As a result, there is a movement for cities looking to curb pedestrian injuries to replace the standard old pedestrian crossing signs with newer, more dynamic signs.
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