For the purposes of this synthesis adult pedestrians are defined as those aged 16 to 59, which is the age range commonly used to describe adults in the ‘Reported road casualties Great Britain’ reports. Where some authors of other research have used different age bands, these are clearly stated.

Pedestrians face specific road safety problems:

  • Vulnerability – pedestrians lack physical protection, sub-groups such as older pedestrians may be especially frail;Conspicuity – pedestrians are small compared to vehicles;

  • Effort – pedestrians are self-propelled and effort associated with making a detour results in direct desire lines; and,

  • Distraction – pedestrians are often also engaged in other activities.

Accident statistics show that two thirds of adult pedestrian casualties in Great Britain are male. However, there are very few pedestrian safety educational campaigns aimed at adults and almost no research into how such programmes impact casualties.

Visibility, impairment and distraction are typical contributory factors. It has been found that lighting road crossings (to increase visibility) tends to reduce casualties, and that the casualty risk for pedestrians increases significantly when their blood alcohol concentration exceeds 150mg/100ml. Less is known about distraction, although one North American study found that more drivers yielded to a visibly inattentive pedestrian than to a visibly attentive one.

The United Kingdom has few laws for pedestrians; most obviously there are no laws to prevent crossing the road except at crossing points (i.e. jaywalking). For this reason, there is limited scope for pedestrian enforcement. Studies are cited in which police presence has improved driver and pedestrian behaviour at crossings; however one such study was carried out in 1968 and relevance today is likely to be limited.

Given the lack of legal framework, pedestrians in the UK cross the road according to their own convenience when they identify gaps in traffic (i.e. regardless of the status of a red or green man). Many adults are capable of crossing the road safely regardless of signals – studies have not been able to link ‘red man compliance’ with accident rates.

Effective engineering interventions include: signalised crossings (Puffin), pedestrian guard rails, advanced stop lines, central refuges, kerb extensions and pavements on both sides of the road. There is a large body of research concerning crossing design which, for example, has resulted in the improvements to Pelican crossings which have developed into the Puffin design.

A programme of countermeasures combining education, enforcement and engineering treatments has demonstrated safety improvements. In Miami-Dade County, Florida four high pedestrian risk RTI zones were identified and local knowledge utilised to apply a suitable blend of counter measures.

Vehicle design has advanced to the benefit of pedestrian safety. Innovations such as active bonnets are designed to reduce injury in the event of a pedestrian being struck. However, there is a perceived risk to pedestrians from the very low noise levels of hybrid / electric vehicles – a UK study found that although these vehicles tend to be involved in fewer RTIs overall, relatively more of the RTIs that do occur involve hitting a pedestrian.


  • Date Added: 03 Apr 2012, 08:17 AM
  • Last Update: 27 Jan 2017, 04:22 PM