The Effects of High Visibility Enforcement on Driver compliance to the Drivers yielding to Pedestrians in Crosswalks; Changing the Driving culture on a Citywide Basis
The purpose of this study was to replicate the findings of Van Houten et. al. (2013) demonstrating that a multifaceted program could increase the percentage of motorist’s yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks on a community basis in Gainesville, FL, and that these changes actually improved further over a four year follow-up period (Van Houten et. al., 2017). The current study replicated the original findings in a similar sized city in a different region of the US (Ann Arbor, MI). Stopping for pedestrians increased from a mean of 28.5% to 65.2% at the treatment sites which also received police enforcement and from 34.2% to 53% at the generalization sites that did not receive police enforcement. These changes were very similar to those observed in the city of Gainesville Florida. These finding indicated that the use of the feedback signs showing the percentage of motorists stopping for pedestrians each week along with the record level of stopping behavior were a key element of the success of the treatment packages. Follow-up data should be collected after 4 years to determine whether further improvements in driver stopping occur over time, as was the case in Gainesville.
In Michigan many drivers do not yield right of way to pedestrians crossing in marked crosswalks at uncontrolled locations. Research has demonstrated that high visibility pedestrian right-of-way enforcement can increase yielding on a city-wide basis (Van Houten, et., al, 2013) and that these changes improve over time after the program has ended (Van Houten, et. al., 2017). Because this program was only piloted in one regions (the southeast), it is unknown whether it can be replicated in another region of the county. The purpose of this study was to replicate these findings in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The percentage of drivers giving right-of-way in crosswalks for staged crossings increased after the enforcement program was introduced and stopping for pedestrians showed an increasing pattern over the duration of the program at enforcement sites. Stopping for pedestrians also showed a smaller increase at sites that did not receive any enforcement. Data for yielding for staged crossings at the sites that received enforcement and those that did not receive enforcement (generalization sites) are shown in Table 1a and 2a. Similar data are shown for natural crossing in Tables 2a and 2b.
This study produced three interesting results: 1. As in Gainesville, the enforcement led to a slow and steady increase in the percentage of drivers giving right-of-way to pedestrians over the course of the year; 2. The program produced a marked increase in stopping behavior. This effect was particularly apparent at some sites when highway feedback signs were added; 3. The effects of the program generalized to crosswalks that were not targeted for pedestrian right-of-way enforcement.
Table 1a. The percentage of drivers yielding right-of-way to staged crossings at each enforcement site during each condition of the experiment.
Table 1b. The percentage of drivers yielding right-of-way to natural or unstaged crossings at each enforcement site during each condition of the experiment.
Table 2a. The percentage of drivers yielding right-of-way to staged crossing at each generalization site during each condition of the experiment
Table 2b. The percentage of drivers yielding right-of-way to natural or unstaged crossings at each generalization site during each condition of the experiment.
Figure 1 shows a picture of one of the feedback signs introduced in the city of Ann Arbor and a photo of two officers standing at one of the flagging sites where violators were pulled over for failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
Figure 1. The picture on the left side shows one of the feedback signs, the picture on the right shows two officers at a flagging site.
Van Houten, R., Malenfant, J.E.L., Blomberg, R., Huitema, B., & Hochmuth, J. (2017) High Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance with Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws: Four-Year Follow-Up. Transportation Research Record. Vol 2660, 58-65 https://doi.org/10.3141/2660-08.
Van Houten, R., Malenfant, L., Huitema, B. & Blomberg, R. (2013) The effects of High Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance to Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws. Transportation Research Record, 2393, 41-49.