Traffic and Highway Geometric Characteristics Associated with Pedestrian Crashes in Virginia

Report No: 96-R29

Published in 1996

About the report:

Although motor vehicle traffic volume continues to increase, recent studies have shown that in most cities about 90 percent of all internal trips within the central business district are walking trips. Additionally, those rural areas experiencing high growth rates are also experiencing increases in pedestrian traffic. As pedestrian traffic grows, and the inevitable conflicts between pedestrians and motorists become more frequent, it is axiomatic that the level of risk, particularly for the pedestrians, increases as well. Between 1990 and 1994, pedestrian deaths accounted for 10.1 to 12.5 percent of all traffic fatalities in Virginia. This figure suggests that pedestrian safety improvement can be a promising candidate for the attention of state safety program officials, and that innovative countermeasures should be reviewed. This study was initiated to determine the traffic and geometric characteristics that significantly affect the safety of different classifications of pedestrians as a first step in the identification of potentially effective countermeasures for reducing pedestrian deaths and injuries resulting from crashes with motor vehicles. Data for this project were obtained from police accident reports involving pedestrian crashes over a 3-year period (1988 through 1990). The data were analyzed using inferential statistics to determine the significant characteristics of pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes. The results indicate that age of the pedestrian, location of the crash, type of facility, the use of alcohol, and type of traffic control at the site have significant impact on the risk of pedestrian involvement and the likely severity of injury in motor vehicle crashes. Also, younger pedestrians are more likely to be involved in crashes than older pedestrians, and within city limits, pedestrian involvement rates are significantly higher within roadway sections that lie between the stop line at an intersection and a distance 150 ft. from the stop line.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Torsten Lienau, Nicholas J. Garber, Ph.D.

Last updated: December 17, 2023

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