Is this the Beginning of the End for Risky Right-Turns-on-Red?

Allowing drivers in the USA to turn-right-on-red increased cases of pedestrians and bicycles being struck by 43-123 percent, and many of these collisions have resulted in injuries.

A post today on Facebook, from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety [IIHS], pleasingly caught our attention when they confirmed the inescapable conclusion that research has shown that allowing drivers to turn right on red can put pedestrians at risk. There is a very blunt American expression involving ‘Sherlock’ that sums up the situation perfectly!

Whenever drivers who are turning right-on-red take their attention away from either of the two crosswalks they are typically about to cross — usually while looking for vehicles coming from the left — pedestrians are put in danger….. End of story! (Copyright image, 2018.)

Turning to the source for this news, the Washington Post, one finds that the practice of allowing drivers to turn right on red started as a result of the global fuel crisis in the 1970s. Since then, it has been allowed to continue, although seemingly just for the convenience of drivers. Apparently nobody has bothered to rescind the measure until now.

Distraction is often involved in right-on-red collisions and when not only the drivers but the pedestrians are focussed on the wrong thing, injuries become much more likely. When on foot, put your phone or game away and look all around! (Copyright image, 2018.)

Even when pedestrians get a green “cross now” signal, at intersections it is immensely important for them not only to look left and right for traffic (even on a one-way street… we have all seen people driving the wrong way!) but also to watch for drivers turning towards you from any street that’s behind your left shoulder. To quote an old mantra, it is no good lying on the road, perhaps with bad injuries, trying to tell the world that you had the right of way.

Washington DC is one of the American cities that pleasingly has embraced successful European approaches to its traffic safety, and as part of their Vision Zero program around 100 intersections in the District are set to lose right-on-red as a facility for drivers so that pedestrians and cyclists will be safer…. Well done DC!

It’s not just right-on-red that can cause danger… What about this bizarre case of “Don’t Stop at the Stop Sign”? (Copyright image, 2018.)

Interestingly, some places also appear to contradict stop-sign laws in their attempt to achieve the same goal as right-on-red at traffic lights.

The stop sign in the adjacent photograph, complete with its contradictory qualifier, is in Delaware. It, too, is at a crossroads so exactly the same danger can arise if a driver rolls through the intersection, as instructed by the sign, looking left for vehicles rather than at the crosswalk on the right. We would love to see the legislation that makes such a frankly absurd and contradictory situation possible… if any such actual legislation actually exists.

Photograph of two teenage girl pedestrians who were clearly startled by the fast approach of the black sedan, in which the driver had to brake hard to avoid hitting them. This undeniably is a common occurrence when drivers fail to stop correctly at the first crosswalk, as they enter the intersection at which they are turning right on red.
The girl pedestrians in this photo were clearly startled by the fast approach of the black sedan, in which the driver had to brake hard to avoid hitting them. This undeniably is a common occurrence when drivers fail to stop correctly before the **first** crosswalk, as they enter the intersection at which they are turning right on red. (Copyright image, 2014.)
Oh, great…. something else for drivers to look for when their key focus should be on the pedestrians and cyclists they are heading towards! (Copyright image, 2018.)

A conversation and exchange of e-mails later today with the good people at the IIHS revealed that one of their newsletters from 1980, which looked into the effect of right-turn-on-red, found a 57 percent increase in pedestrian crashes following the change to allow this technique to be used. Other studies from around the same time found that allowing right-turn-on-red increased pedestrians and bicycles being struck by 43-123 percent, depending on the study and the locations, and that many of these collisions resulted in injuries. Yet despite these extraordinary increases in collision rates and injuries, only now are some places starting to do anything about it!

Regrettably, the USA is the most consistently poor performer among ~30 developed nations in the world, in terms of the rates of road deaths. Vision Zero and the adoption of other global best practices by America undoubtedly will do a lot to reduce deaths and injuries.

At Advanced Drivers of America, we wish all the places that are developing Vision Zero and similar best-practise strategies and targets the very best of success in this New Year and beyond.

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Williamsville, NY, is Taking a Lead in Pedestrian Safety in the USA

The new press-button, gantry-style traffic signals on a new, mid-block crosswalk in Williamsville, NY. (Copyright image, 2018.)

With just over 6,000 pedestrian deaths a year [re 2017, NHTSA], the USA sadly has a very poor record in protecting people on foot.

Here at Advanced Drivers of North America, we have long campaigned for greater pedestrian safety, not only in relation to the construction of more mid-block crosswalks but also for the upgrade of the materials used to create crosswalks.

Williamsville was my home town for 12 years and its Main Street has always had some excessively long gaps between crosswalks, so it has always been in my mind when I’ve been thinking or talking about this subject.

The same crosswalk, viewed from the east. (Copyright image, 2018.)

It was therefore a great surprise and delight for me when I was in Williamsville over Christmas this year and found that the town has installed what I hope will be the first of several mid-block crosswalks.

Drivers needn’t be too concerned about an excessive numbers of stops. Most of the time, the signal lights are simply off. They only function after someone hits the press-to-cross button.

Given the cross-border proximity of the Canadian province of Ontario, it is quite possible that someone in authority in Williamsville has adopted the idea from Ontario’s many such crossings. However, the catalyst doesn’t really matter — it’s to the fact that the first one has been erected.

Well done, Williamsville…. Please don’t let this one be the only one you build!

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As always, please be aware that this website is registered with the United States Copyright Office and that punitive legal action for damages may be taken against anyone who breaches our copyright. This, however, does not stop you from posting links to any of our pages, and you are welcome to do so.

In Massachusetts You are Meant to Wave to Drivers at Crosswalks!

We presume the instruction for pedestrians to ‘wave’ before going over crosswalks in Great Barrington, MA, means they should make eye-contact with the drivers of approaching vehicles.  But will it work?

On each end of the crosswalks in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, is the instruction for pedestrians to 'Stop, Look, and Wave!!
‘Stop, Look & Wave’ is the instruction on crosswalks in Gt Barrington, MA. (Copyright image, 2018.)

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More and Better Crosswalks in the USA Would Save Many Lives

Just a few days ago, on June 11, 2018, NYSDOT Acting Commissioner Paul Karas announced a $62 million investment in the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, here in our own home state of New York .   This multi-agency initiative will include the Department of Health, DMV, Capital District Transportation Authority and local enforcement agencies.  This is, of course, to be warmly welcomed, but let’s get straight to the point, the USA has a stunningly bad track record for pedestrian injuries and deaths, with almost exactly six thousand being killed nationwide, and a vastly greater number being injured, during the last statistical year alone.

Photograph of a crosswalk location sign in the USA
Crosswalk location sign, USA. (Copyright image, 2012.)

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Uber Prototype Self-Driving Car Kills Pedestrian — Wild Claims about Who or What is at Fault!

A pedestrian being hit and killed by an autonomous vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, on Sunday, March 18, 2018, was certainly destined to create a big response from the media and many have published their views regarding the sad incident.

The problem is, though, that many people have speculated inappropriately on the matter, including — it has to be said — the police chief in Tempe.  So let’s make one important point straight away:  The only relevant decision regarding blame for this or any other tragic incident clearly lies solely with the courts.  Publishing unsubstantiated or wildly inaccurate opinions before any trial can only serve to affect the opinions of subsequent jurors and even officials — a highly undesirable situation.  (In other countries this is the law — often referred to as Sub Judice — but sadly for the most accurate justice that is not the case in the USA.)

Before considering some of the comments, let’s take a look at the in-car video, apparently published by Tempe Police and then ABC7, since the incident:

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Global NCAP tells Donald Trump to Make ‘America First’ in Pedestrian Protection

In response to President Donald Trump’s claim last week that a so called ‘bowling ball’ test is preventing US automobiles from entering the Japanese market, Global NCAP has written to the US President urging him to make ‘America First’ in pedestrian protection by adopting the same global standard applied by Japan…

Photo of a crash test dummy reading a mock book: Crash Testing for Dummies
Photo: Global NCAP

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USA: Crosswalks made with Low Quality Paint or in Pretty Colors are Potentially Deadly

Poor quality paint is dangerously and very frequently used for pavement markings and crosswalks in the USA, in place of more-expensive but vastly-safer thermoplastic materials which have a high-glass-bead content for excellent reflectivity at night and in bad weather.

A photo showing the loaction of two supposedly bright yellow crosswalks but they become invisible in rain at night because of the use of cheap paint.
Two bright yellow-painted crosswalks in Falmouth, MA, from crucial angles invisible during and just after heavy rain at night. The yellow is a futile waste of time if it becomes invisible at certain times! (Copyright image.)

Compare the photo above with the one below.  They are at the same location and were taken less than 12 hours apart.
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Far Too Many Pedestrians are Killed in the USA but it Could be Improved

It is a very saddening fact that pedestrian safety on roads and highways in the USA is well below the standard it should be, and far too many people are killed as a result.

The following was published by NHTSA on Facebook on 7 September, 2017:

  NHTSA  7 hrs
Pedestrian fatalities totaled 5,376 in 2015, up 10% from 2014. Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.

Photo of pedstrians on a busy crosswalk
NHTSA image

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