An innovative approach to making pedestrians safer has arrived in some places in the United States: the 3D (three-dimensional) crosswalk. 3D crosswalks are painted with 3D paint, so that the usual crosswalk lines look like 3D objects to drivers. From a distance, the road appears to have oblong white boxes placed on it. From a pedestrian’s perspective, however, the crosswalk looks normal, and the paint looks like paint.
Crosswalks Intended to Enhance Safety
The idea is that the presence of something that looks like boxes or other objects will cause drivers to slow down as they approach the crosswalk, more than conventional crosswalks do. The innovative crosswalks also cause drivers to pay more attention, so they reduce any driver distraction.
Some 3D crosswalks in the United States were initially the idea of schoolchildren. In some locations in Massachusetts, for example, they are painted near school crossing zones. They are also being tried in Iceland, Canada, and India.
Pedestrian Accidents a Cause for Concern
3D crosswalks are being tried in an effort to reduce traffic accidents that involve pedestrians in the United States. Traffic accidents nationwide caused 5,977 pedestrian deaths in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s one pedestrian death every 88 minutes.
It’s also part of the overall rise in traffic fatalities, which climbed 12.6% in West Virginia overall in the last year for which statistics are available. Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed in car crashes than people in the car, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition, 129,000 pedestrians nationwide had to be taken to emergency rooms for injuries, in the last year for which statistics are available. Pedestrians are more vulnerable to injury in a traffic accident, because, unlike people in cars or trucks, they have no protective material over them if they are struck. They are also more vulnerable than motorcyclists or bicyclists.
Speed and Distracted Driving Are Contributing Factors
While there are many reasons for vehicle accidents that involve a pedestrian, two stand out in particular.
The first is speed. The faster a vehicle is going when it hits a pedestrian, the more likely it becomes that the accident will be fatal. A pedestrian hit by a car going 20 miles per hour has a 10% chance of dying, but a pedestrian hit by the same car going 40 miles per hour has an 80% chance of dying.
The second reason for pedestrian deaths in traffic collisions is distracted driving. Cellphones, looking at maps, or just being inattentive to surroundings can cause drivers to fail to notice pedestrians in their path or about to enter their path. It can also cause drivers to drive erratically. Even a few seconds can be dangerous to a pedestrian.
Can 3D Crosswalks Make Pedestrians Safer?
But not everyone believes unusual crosswalks are conducive to greater pedestrian safety. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA), for example, noted that patterns and artistic treatments in crosswalks don’t result in fewer accidents or a higher level of safety. In fact, the FHA had some concerns that what it termed artistic treatments could detract from the communication that a crosswalk is intended to convey – in other words, the implicit “pedestrians walk here, slow down” message.
But the FHA’s opinion was issued before 3D crosswalks were rolled out in an increasing number of places. Several places that have incorporated 3D crosswalks, such as Kansas City, Kansas, plan to review data to see if they contribute to pedestrian and overall traffic safety.
3D sidewalks have not yet been placed in any locations in West Virginia.
Contact Us If You Have Been in a Pedestrian Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a pedestrian traffic accident, we can help. Johnstone and Gabhart are experienced pedestrian accident lawyers in West Virginia. We can see that justice is done so that you receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages from work, and more.