Adding Obstacles Could Reduce Left-Turn Crashes Involving Pedestrians

Adding Obstacles Could Reduce Left-Turn Crashes Involving Pedestrians

We’ve all seen it. Left-turning drivers cutting diagonally through intersections without any regard for the pedestrians who are trying to cross safely. How could we prevent these types of serious accidents? A new study suggests that “centerline hardening” could be a solution.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study showed that the use of bollards and rubber curbs along the center lines of lanes forced drivers at intersections to take left turns more slowly and at more of a right angle, rather than trying to cut across diagonally. The infrastructure changes introduced in Washington, D.C., prompted a significant reduction in the number of times left-turning drivers suddenly hit the brakes or swerved, as well as reduced the number of instances where pedestrians had to rush to get out of the way of vehicles. Overall, these crash-avoidance maneuvers were reduced by 70 percent with the introduction of the obstacles added to centerlines, the study showed.

“This study suggests that simple infrastructure changes can deliver big benefits,” IIHS Senior Research Transportation Engineer Wen Hu says. “Communities looking for ways to make pedestrians safer should add centerline hardening to their toolbox.”

What Is Centerline Hardening?

The IIHS study defines centerline hardening as “a technique to make intersections safer for pedestrians by encouraging drivers to make left turns at slower speeds. Bollards and rubber curbs are used to block the diagonal path through the intersection.”

Bollards are short posts that are bolted or otherwise secured to the road to provide visual guidance to drivers. They are sturdy but oftentimes flexible to reduce damage in case a vehicle strikes them. Rubber curbs are simply raised curbs placed in the centerline of lanes at intersections as a reminder for drivers to stay in the correct lane when turning.

What the Pedestrian Accident Statistics Show

Across the United States, pedestrian fatalities jumped 53 percent from 2009 to 2018, the IIHS noted. More than half of all crashes involving pedestrians in 2018 happened at intersections. Left-turn accidents in particular accounted for almost a third of all intersection crashes involving pedestrians in 2018.

In the IIHS study, Hu collected data from 10 intersections in Washington, D.C., for two months before and three months after the centerline infrastructure measures were put in place. She compared the data collected against numbers from eight control sites where no centerline safety features were implemented.

The study found that using the centerline hardening infrastructure:

  • Decreased the average left-turn speed by 7 percent
  • Reduced by 36 percent the number of drivers who made the turn at more than 15 mph

Hurt in a Pedestrian Accident? Talk to a Lawyer Now

No matter what safety infrastructure is in place at an intersection, drivers have a duty to watch out for pedestrians. When drivers are speeding or distracted and make a dangerous left-hand turn, hitting an innocent pedestrian, they should be held accountable.

At the Law Offices of Michael J. Gopin, our pedestrian accident lawyers are here to help crash victims fight for the full compensation they need to recover after devastating accidents. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, and learn how our team can help you get through this difficult time.

Michael J. Gopin

Michael J. Gopin has practiced law in El Paso since 1987. Even after more than 30 years, he still remembers his first jury case. It was two weeks after receiving his license, when he represented a person whose life had been forever changed after being blinded in a work-related incident...


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