Roads not safe for pedestrians should be improved to reduce risks of crashes. This is especially true in areas around schools and in school zones. Federal funding may be available for local areas to improve conditions surrounding schools as part of the Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) program.
It is up to government agencies to make sure road conditions do not endanger drivers. Poorly designed roads can give rise to liability when accidents occur. Drivers must also accommodate for suboptimal road conditions and take extra care not to take risks that could cause pedestrian accidents. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can provide assistance to collision victims in determining who should be held responsible for accidents.
Road Safety Audit Highlights Roads in Need of Improvements
A checklist from Governors Highway Safety Association can be used to determine if road conditions are safe for pedestrians or need improvement. Considerations in assessing road safety for pedestrians include whether:
- Sidewalks or wide road shoulders exist, are wide enough to accommodate pedestrians even during peak traffic times, and are present on both sides of the road as well as on the sides of bridges.
- Sufficient distance exists separating pedestrians from other vehicles.
- Sidewalk boundaries are detectable by pedestrians who may have visual impairments.
- Ramps are provided in areas where stairs are located and would prevent the disabled from passing.
- Sidewalks or other pedestrian walking paths are clear and free of both temporary or permanent obstacles.
- The walking surface is appropriately graded and not too steep for pedestrians.
Walking surfaces are well-maintained and in good condition.
Obstructions prevent drivers from seeing pedestrians when approaching from intersections or driveways or going around curves.
- Sidewalks are continuous or have gaps.
- Measures are in place to direct pedestrians to access ways and to safe crossing paths.
- Pedestrian facilities allow pedestrians to reach transit facilities or residential areas.
- Sidewalks and other walking areas have enough lighting so pedestrians can see and are visible both during the day and at night. Street lights improve visibility conditions after dark so night walking is not dangerous.
- Minimal driveways intersect walking areas and there are not so many driveways the route is undesirable for pedestrian travel.
- Conflicts are likely to arise on sidewalks or road shoulders between pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Pavement markings and signs are adequate and are visible both during the day and at night.
- A speed limit sign is posted and speed limits are reasonable.
A road safety audit makes it possible for municipalities to prioritize areas to improve conditions for pedestrians. A needs assessment is the first step in making pedestrians safer: problem areas should be identified. The next step involves program planning to develop an effective pedestrian safety plan. Implementation of the safety plan is the third step, followed by monitoring and evaluation to determine if the plan is working optimally to protect walkers.
Pedestrians deserve protection and municipalities should take active steps to conduct road safety audits and target infrastructure spending. School zones should be a top priority for infrastructure improvement according to the GHSA, but all local roads presenting a pedestrian risk should be evaluated.