Warning Efficacy of Active Versus Passive Warnings for Unsignalized Intersection and Mid-Block Pedestrian Crosswalks


Thomas Smith, Curtis Hammond, Guruprasad Somasundaram, Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos

January 2009

Report no. Mn/DOT 2009-03

This study evaluated the efficacy of active versus passive warnings at uncontrolled pedestrian (ped) crosswalks (Xwalks), by comparing how these two warnings types influenced behavior of drivers approaching such Xwalks. Vehicle-Xwalk interactions were observed at 18 sites with passive, continuously flashing, or ped-activated warnings, yielding 7,305 no ped present and 596 ped present interactions. Vehicle velocities and accelerations were averaged for each interaction. Findings show no significant effect of warning type on overall velocities for either interaction type. With peds present only, for average velocities at successive 5m distances from the Xwalk, a downward trend in velocities from 25 to 5m is observed for passive and active warning sites, but not for pedactivated warning sites. Various lines of evidence point to a number of sources of ambiguity regarding the salience of uncontrolled Xwalk warnings, resulting in behavioral uncertainty by drivers interacting with such warnings. Mixed findings on effects of warning type in this study point to the need for further analysis of this problem area.

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