Assess the Risk of the Crossing
How likely is it that the unexpected vehicle will hit me?
So far, we've talked about who has the right of way, and how likely it is that an undetected vehicle could reach you.
But these are only part of the story -- what you really want to know is whether that vehicle will hit you.
To analyze that likelihood, your students can consider:
Likelihood of being hit may vary!
- the drivers' need for sight distance, braking time,
good road conditions, etc. (click here for James Madison University's table of speed and stopping distances).
- Research indicates** that with all else being equal, drivers are more likely to yield if:
- they are going slowly (slower vehicles yield more often than faster ones);
- they are not traveling in a "platoon" (a group of vehicles);
- they are in locations that normally have lots of pedestrian traffic so they expect pedestrians to cross there;
- there is a group of pedestrians wanting to cross rather than a single pedestrian;
- the pedestrian conveys the perception of vulnerability / engenders drivers' empathy (such as using crutches or pushing a baby carriage);
- the pedestrian enters the crosswalk (rather than remaining on the sidewalk).
- research by Bourquin, Wall Emerson and Sauerburger (studying what drivers do when a pedestrian walks toward their path during the day) indicates that
- using a white cane greatly increases the likelihood that drivers will yield (40-60% yielded to a pedestrian without a cane, about 90% with a cane for drivers who were alone);
- drivers are NOT more likely to stop for a pedestrian who wears an orange vest.
- drivers generally behave differently in different communities and situations, so it is helpful to observe the yielding behavior of drivers in the student's area and at particular crossings to find out how likely they are to yield.
- although you cannot make conclusions about drivers' yielding behavior in your area based on studies of drivers in other areas, you may find interesting information in Figure 25 (pp. 50-51) of the TCRP/NCHRP's Improving Pedestrian Safety at Unsignalized Crossings (2006).
danger of "multiple threats"
It is extremely importantly that students understand the dangers of crossing multiple lanes when there is a vehicle that has stopped to yield in only one lane, as shown in the illustration to the right (Barlow, Bentzen, Sauerburger & Franck, page 383).
This is how Dick and Lorraine Evensen were killed.
In this situation, the presence of a vehicle waiting in one lane can reduce the visibility of the pedestrian to other drivers, and reduce the ability of the pedestrian to hear other approaching traffic.
Hopefully the student is already aware of the effect of sounds being masked or blocked by other vehicles, and is aware that there may be vehicles approaching in other lanes.
Students should also understand that they can not trust the verbal assurance of drivers or others that it is safe to cross.
Many of these factors (such as road conditions and visibility, traffic speed, drivers' expectations, etc.) can vary greatly at any given crossing,
so the likelihood that the approaching vehicles will hit you can also vary.
**Some of the statements are based on a single study and may therefore have limited application, others are more thoroughly researched. Regardless, none of the statements can reliably predict drivers' behavior in any given situation.