Scholarly article on topic 'Pedestrian Safety at Traffic Signals in Warsaw'

Pedestrian Safety at Traffic Signals in Warsaw Academic research paper on "Civil engineering"

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Abstract of research paper on Civil engineering, author of scientific article — Piotr Olszewski, Beata Osińska, Anna Zielińska

Abstract This paper attempts to examine and analyse accident causation and risk factors for pedestrian injuries at signalized locations in Warsaw. In large Polish cities like Warsaw, pedestrians constitute almost 60% of road fatalities. Although traffic safety situation in general is improving, the numbers of pedestrians hit when crossing a road have not significantly decreased in the last five years. Accidents at signalized intersections and crossings in Warsaw constitute around 33% of all crashes involving pedestrians. During the last five years the number of accidents occurring at signalized pedestrian crossings has not been decreasing. Based on analysis of 735 police records of pedestrian accidents in Warsaw for years 2010-2014, it can be concluded that in terms of numbers the biggest problem occurs on dual carriageway roads and at zebra crossings on intersection exit roadways. The highest risk of a fatal accident outcome occurs at midblock signalized crossings and when pedestrians cross tram tracks. Pedestrians over 65 years of age have the highest risk of being killed. Disobeying the red signal is a serious problem – many accidents were caused by either a pedestrian (25%) or driver (8%) ignoring the red light. The findings suggest that accident rates could be minimized by appropriate road and traffic signal design: speed reduction measures and enforcement as well as making traffic signals more pedestrian-friendly, especially for elderly pedestrians.

Academic research paper on topic "Pedestrian Safety at Traffic Signals in Warsaw"

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Transportation Research

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Procedía

ELSEVIER

Transportation Research Procedía 14(2016) 1174- 1182

www.elsevier.com/locate/procedia

6th Transport Research Arena April 18-21, 2016

THAHSPOftT RiSIARCH AMIN A

Pedestrian safety at traffic signals in Warsaw

Piotr Olszewskia' *, Beata Osinskaa, Anna Zielinskab

aWarsaw University of Technology, al. ArmiiLudowej 16, 00-637 Warszawa, Poland bMotor Transport Institute, ul. JagieUonska 80, 03-301 Warszawa, Poland

Abstract

This paper attempts to examine and analyse accident causation and risk factors for pedestrian injuries at signalized locations in Warsaw. In large Polish cities like Warsaw, pedestrians constitute almost 60% of road fatalities. Although traffic safety situation in general is improving, the numbers of pedestrians hit when crossing a road have not significantly decreased in the last five years. Accidents at signalized intersections and crossings in Warsaw constitute around 33% of all crashes involving pedestrians. During the last five years the number of accidents occurring at signalized pedestrian crossings has not been decreasing. Based on analysis of 735 police records of pedestrian accidents in Warsaw for years 2010-2014, it can be concluded that in terms of numbers the biggest problem occurs on dual carriageway roads and at zebra crossings on intersection exit roadways. The highest risk of a fatal accident outcome occurs at midblock signalized crossings and when pedestrians cross tram tracks. Pedestrians over 65 years of age have the highest risk of being killed. Disobeying the red signal is a serious problem - many accidents were caused by either a pedestrian (25%) or driver (8%) ignoring the red light. The findings suggest that accident rates could be minimized by appropriate road and traffic signal design: speed reduction measures and enforcement as well as making traffic signals more pedestrian-friendly, especially for elderly pedestrians.

© 2016 The Authors.Publishedby ElsevierB.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Road and Bridge Research Institute (IBDiM) Keywords: Traffic safety, pedestrians, traffic signals, Warsaw

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +48-22-234-6331; fax: +48-22-825-3727.

E-mail address: p.olszewski@il.pw.edu.pl

2352-1465 © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Road and Bridge Research Institute (IBDiM) doi: 10.1016/j.trpro.2016.05.188

1. Introduction

The situation of pedestrians on Polish roads is alarming - the number of pedestrian fatalities between the years 2006 and 2013 was over 12 000. In large cities like Warsaw, pedestrians constitute almost 60% of road fatalities. Although traffic safety situation in Poland in general is improving, the numbers of pedestrians hit when crossing a road have not significantly decreased in the last five years (Olszewski et al. 2015). Accidents at signalized intersections and crossings in Warsaw constitute around one third of all crashes involving pedestrians. Overall, traffic signals are supposed to be safer for vulnerable road users than the unsignalized zebra crossings. However, accident severity observed at traffic signals is high. This is probably caused by problems with red signal obedience by both pedestrians and motorists or walking outside of marked crossing areas. Pedestrians often complain about signal settings not reflecting their needs and in general about traffic signals not being pedestrian-friendly. Hence, there is an urgent need to examine and improve safety for pedestrians at signalized crossings.

The problem of pedestrian safety at traffic signals has been studied for many years and described in the literature. Studies of pedestrian safety were conducted in several countries (e.g.: Zaidel and Hocherman 1987; Garder 1989; Lee and Abdel-Aty 2005). Garder indicated two situations significant for pedestrian safety, which should be analysed separately: crossing the street on the green light, when a collision between pedestrians and turning vehicle occurs and committing violations by pedestrians when crossing on red. Pedestrian accident prediction model for traffic signals was developed by Tarko and Tracz (1995) who examined factors that could influence pedestrian accident risk at signalized crossings in Poland. A regression technique was used in this study. One of the most important factors are signal timings and a phase sequence. Red-to-green ratio has a profound influence on the accident risk. Tiwari et al. (2007) used survival analysis to determine pedestrian risk exposure at signalized intersections. They found that mean waiting times for males are lower than for females, so male pedestrians are more likely to commit violations of traffic rules (crossing on red). Pedestrian behaviour at traffic signals, especially the problem of crossing on red, was examined by Sisiopiku and Akin (2003) as well as Rosenbloom (2009). Sisiopiku and Atkin showed that the delay time plays a crucial role in pedestrian behaviour. Pedestrians waiting long to cross the street commit red light violations in an effort to decrease their delay. On the one hand extending pedestrian interval for late arrivals could reduce their delays, on the other hand the risk of crossing on red increases with very small delay because of a desire to keep moving. This means that pedestrians do not stop or slow down at the curb and they cross against pedestrian signals. According to Rosenbloom, people are more likely to cross on a red light while standing alone than waiting with others at the curb. Cultural context and behavioural norms of the society are important here.

A review of pedestrian safety research in the United States and in other countries was compiled by Campbell et al. (2004). New intelligent signal solutions aimed at increasing safety of pedestrians are reviewed and recommended by Carsten et al. (1998) and by Retting et al. (2003). According to Carsten, a big problem for a large number of people waiting at the curb is not pushing the button. Instead of push-buttons Carsten suggested the use of microwave detectors registering the presence of pedestrians. He recommended also some changes in signal programs, especially extension of the pedestrian stages to accommodate late arrivals and when heavy pedestrian volumes occur.

Among efforts to improve pedestrian traffic safety one should also mention the European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP 2015) which promotes the introduction of pedestrian safety functions on new vehicles such as Autonomous Emergency Braking systems for vulnerable road users. It is hoped that these changes will start to have an impact on pedestrian safety in the near future, once the numbers of such newly equipped vehicles become substantial.

Understanding high risk of vulnerable road users and importance of technical standards for the protection of this group of people, the European Parliament adopted Regulation No 78/2009 (European Parliament 2009). This Regulation lays down requirements for the construction and functioning of motor vehicles and frontal protection systems in order to reduce the number and severity of injuries to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users who are hit by the fronts of vehicles and in order to avoid such collisions. The regulation is substantiated by a study which shows that pedestrian protection can be significantly improved by a combination of passive and active measures which afford a higher level of protection than the previously existing provisions. In particular, the study shows that the active safety system "brake assist", combined with changes to passive safety requirements, would significantly increase the level of pedestrian protection.

In Poland, the problem of pedestrian safety has been recognised and described in the local as well as international literature (e.g. Olszewski and Zielinska 2012; Jamroz et. al. 2015; Olszewski et. al. 2015). Improvement of pedestrian safety is one of the priority goals of the Polish National Road Traffic Safety Programme (National Road Safety Council 2013). A recently published handbook (Jamroz et al. 2014) for traffic managers and road authorities gives detailed recommendations on methods of protecting pedestrians.

2. Pedestrian safety in Warsaw

The aim of this paper is to examine and analyse accident causation and risk factors for pedestrian injuries at signalized locations in Warsaw. The trend in the number of accidents in which pedestrians were injured or killed over the last nine years is presented in Figure 1. There was a significant improvement in Warsaw between 2007 and 2009: the number of accidents with pedestrians dropped from around 800 to around 500 per year. However, since 2009 the number of accidents fluctuates and does not decrease any more.

The source of statistical data on road accidents is the Polish Police accident data base - SEWiK (System of Records of Accidents and Collisions). This data base contains numerical and text data on accident circumstances, the victims and vehicles involved. The data are entered based on paper accident data collection forms which are manually prepared by police officers. According to European practice (European Commission, 2014), "accidents" are defined as "incidents on a public road involving at least one moving vehicle and at least one casualty (person injured or killed)". Accidents from the Police database are further enhanced by the Warsaw Municipal Road Authority (Zarz^d Drog Miejskich - ZDM). Location data are verified and the actual accident location is coded based on the accident sketch which is only found in paper accident forms. Therefore, the local ZDM database contains more details and it was used for most of the analyses reported here. The dataset examined in this paper includes police records of 735 accidents from years 2010-2014, in which 68 pedestrians were killed and 702 injured. It should be noted that there are some small differences and inconsistencies between the two databases (SEWiK and ZDM).

Fig. 1. Accidents with pedestrians in Warsaw.

Source of data: ZDM database

Table 1 presents the breakdown of pedestrian accidents from years 2010-2014 by injury severity and location. Traffic accidents are classified as fatal, serious or slight according to the injury severity of the most injured person in the accident. Locations are categorized as signalized (intersection or midblock pedestrian crossing with traffic signal) and non-signalised (all others). For all types of accidents about one third occurred at locations with traffic signals - the percentage of fatal accidents at signalized locations is slightly higher at 35%. Accident severity

calculated for traffic signals is also high: 9.3 pedestrians killed per 100 accidents. Overall, traffic signals are supposed to improve safety and eliminate the most severe accidents. However, this seems to be not true for vulnerable road users like pedestrians. A recent study by Jamroz et al. (2015) shows that traffic speeds are higher on approaches to signalized intersections which could explain why accidents which occur there are more severe.

Table 1. Accident with pedestrians in Warsaw by injury severity and location (2010-2014).

Location Fatal accidents Serious accidents Slight accidents Total accidents

number percentage number percentage number percentage number percentage

Signalized location 68 34.9% 121 33.2% 546 32.4% 735 32.7%

Non-signalized location 127 65.1% 243 66.8% 1134 67.3% 1504 67.0%

Unknown location 0 0.0% 0 0.0% 6 0.4% 6 0.3%

Total 195 100.0% 364 100.0% 1686 100.0% 2245 100.0%

Source: ZDM database

3. Road environment factors contributing to accidents

Factors contributing to accidents can be related to road environment, traffic signal operations, traffic characteristics as well as driver and pedestrian behaviour. Unfortunately, accident database does not include information on traffic signal programs such as: phasing, use of green arrow for right turn, permissive or protected left turns. Among factors relating to the road environment we can list: traffic speed limit, road type, location of the accident and lighting conditions. Table 2 shows the distribution of pedestrian accidents by location and road type. Some 67% of accidents at traffic signals involved crossing a dual carriageway (divided) road.

Table 2. Distribution of pedestrian accidents by location and road type.

Road type Non-signalized location Signalized location

number percentage number percentage

Dual carriageway 330 29.4% 382 67.1%

Two way single carriageway 726 64.6% 170 29.9%

One way road 67 6.0% 17 3.0%

Sub-total (known road type) 1123 100.0% 569 100.0%

Road type unknown 387 -- 166 --

Total 1510 735

Source: ZDM database

Warsaw accident database contains additional information on detailed accident location with respect to the nearest intersection. Location codes are assigned to accident records based on whether the accident occurred on approach or exit roadway, zebra crossing, before the crossing or on a sidewalk. The distribution of pedestrian accidents according to such detailed locations is shown in Figure 2. Among 735 accidents in the dataset, 468 or 64% had their detailed location identified. Majority of these accidents (58%) occurred within the zebra crossing on the exit roadway, leading away from the intersection. About 24% of accidents happened on the crossing on approach roadway to the intersection. Some 8% of accidents were located on a mid-block crossing.

Fig. 3. shows which vehicle manoeuvres lead to accidents with pedestrians at signalized intersection crossings. It seems that almost all vehicles (98%) involved in accidents at the intersection approach roadway were going straight. However, in accidents located at intersection exit roadway pedestrians were hit by vehicles going straight (43%) as well as turning left (32%) and right (25%).

In order to examine severity of accidents occurring in different locations, areas shown in Figure 2 were grouped into six categories: zebra - approach roadway, zebra - exit roadway, zebra - midblock, roadway outside zebra, median and sidewalk. Altogether, 468 accidents shown in Figure 2 involved 490 pedestrian victims. Table 3 and Figure 4 present distributions of accident victims by severity and location type. In addition, Table 3 shows fatality

rates and KSI (killed and severely injured) rates for different location types. Fatality rate is defined as the number of killed divided by the total number of victims (killed and injured). KSI rate is the number of killed and seriously injured divided by the total number of victims (killed and injured).

Fig. 2. Location of accidents at traffic signals with respect to intersection.

Zebra crossing at a signalized

Fig. 3. Vehicle manoeuvres leading to accidents with pedestrians at traffic signals.

We can see that the highest fatality and KSI rates were obtained for accidents occurring within the median - most likely these victims were hit by trams. The second highest fatality and KSI rates are for midblock pedestrian

crossings. In terms of numbers of both accidents as well as fatalities - the most dangerous location is part of the zebra crossing located on the exit roadway leading away from the signalized intersection.

In order to check whether fatality rates and KSI rates depend on accident location, a statistical test was performed by comparing proportions in two samples (fatality rate is actually a proportion). The first row in Table 3 (zebra -approach roadway) was used as the reference level. The null hypothesis states that fatality rate at any other accident location is not significantly different. Values of the test statistic Z (which is normally distributed) are shown in Table 3. It seems that the null hypothesis cannot be rejected in all cases at 5% level of significance and at 10% we can only reject it in the case of accidents which occurred in the median.

Table 3. Accident victims at traffic signals by injury severity and detailed location type.

Type of detailed location Injury severity Fatality rate Z statistic KSI rate Z statistic

Fatal Serious Slight Total

Zebra - approach roadway 11 12 92 115 9.6% Reference 20.0% Reference

Zebra - exit roadway 19 43 221 283 6.7% 0.98 21.9% -0.42

Zebra - midblock 4 9 27 40 10.0% -0.08 32.5% -1.61

Roadway - outside zebra 1 3 12 16 6.3% 0.43 25.0% -0.46

Median 3 3 9 15 20.0% -1.23 40.0% -1.75*

Sidewalk 2 1 18 21 9.5% 0.01 14.3% 0.61

Total 40 71 379 490 8.2% 22.7%

Source: ZDM database * significant at 10% level

Fig. 4. Distribution of victims at traffic signals by accident location.

4. Types of accidents

Table 4 shows the distribution of pedestrian accident victims by injury severity and type of manoeuvre made by vehicle. Fatality rates and KSI rates for different manoeuvres are also presented. Majority of accidents (70%) involve vehicles going straight, followed by left turn (18%) and right turn (12%). Almost 90% of fatalities were caused by vehicles going straight. Both fatality rate and KSI rate are the highest for straight-going vehicles which is expected as this manoeuvre is associated with the highest speeds. Fatality rates are similar for left and right turns but KSI rate is higher for left turn. This can perhaps be explained by higher speed of vehicles turning left than turning right and worse visibility of pedestrians.

As in the case of Table 3, a statistical test on proportions in two samples was performed to check whether fatality rates and KSI rates depend on types of vehicle manoeuvres. The first row in Table 4 (vehicle going straight) was used as the reference level. The null hypothesis states that fatality rate for any other vehicle manoeuvre is not significantly different. Values of the test statistic Z are shown in Table 4. It seems that the null hypothesis can be rejected in all cases at 5% level of significance.

Table 4. Accident victims at traffic signals by injury severity and type of manoeuvre.

Type of vehicle Injury severity Fatality Z statistic KSI rate Z statistic

manoeuvre Fatal Serious Slight Total rate

Straight 61 88 392 541 11.3% Reference 27.5% Reference

Right turn 3 13 77 93 3.2% 2.40** 17.2% 2.09**

Left turn 4 23 108 135 3.0% 2.93** 20.0% 1.78*

U-turn 0 0 1 1 0.0% 0.36 0.0% 0.62

Total 68 124 578 770 8.8% 24.9%

Source: ZDM database

** significant at 5% level; * significant at 10% level

5. Victim characteristics

During the years 2010-2014 a total of 68 pedestrians were killed and 702 injured at signalized pedestrian crossings and intersections in Warsaw. Women comprised 32% of fatalities but as much as 60% of injuries. Table 5 shows the distribution of victims of these accidents by age. The risk of being killed in a road accident is growing with age which is a well-known phenomenon (Broughton and Knowles, 2011). Percentage of victims killed (fatality rate) for pedestrians over 75 years is more than 3 times higher than that percentage for children under 15 and 2 times higher than the average. In terms of numbers, the older age groups constitute much higher share of fatalities. Almost half of pedestrians killed were 55 years or older. This group should perhaps be especially targeted in road safety campaigns.

Table 5. Accident victims by injury severity and age group.

Age group Injury severity Fatality rate KSI rate

Fatal Serious Slight Total

<15 3 3 46 52 5.8% 11.5%

15-24 5 21 136 162 3.1% 16.0%

25-34 9 23 93 125 7.2% 25.6%

35-44 7 10 71 88 8.0% 19.3%

45-54 7 11 60 78 9.0% 23.1%

55-64 11 15 91 117 9.4% 22.2%

65-74 7 16 40 63 11.1% 36.5%

^75 14 13 51 78 17.9% 34.6%

Unknown 5 2 0 7

Total 68 114 588 770 8.6% 23.4%

Source: SEWiK database

6. Driver and pedestrian behaviour

Another group of factors relates to driver and pedestrian behaviour contributing to the accident. Table 6 shows that among the 735 accidents there were 187 cases (25%) of pedestrians crossing on red and 60 cases (8%) of vehicles crossing on red. The numbers in Table 6 add up to more than 100% as it is possible that in one accident both pedestrian and driver behaved incorrectly. The cases of drivers not giving way to pedestrians are classified as either "improper driving at pedestrian crossing" (411 cases) or "failing to yield" (20 cases). This means that in 59% of cases pedestrian rights at the crossing were not respected. Altogether, pedestrians were at fault in 34.2% of cases and drivers in 70.2% of cases.

Table 6. Incorrect road user behaviour contributing to accidents at traffic signals.

Road user at fault Incorrect behaviour Number Percentage

Pedestrian Walking on red 187 25.4%

Carelessly entering the road 35 4.8%

Jaywalking 26 3.5%

Other 4 0.5%

Driver Failing to yield 20 2.7%

Incorrect manoeuvre 14 1.9%

Improper driving at pedestrian crossing 411 55.9%

Red running 60 8.2%

Speeding 9 1.2%

Other 2 0.3%

Total 768 104.5%

Source: ZDM database

Tendency to violate traffic rules is a complex problem embedded in the Polish society. Reasons of committing violations of traffic rules could be, on one side - "flexible" attitude of some Poles towards respecting the law, on the other - traffic signal settings which are not pedestrian-friendly. This could mean long waiting times for pedestrian at signalized crossing and unclear rules on how to use push buttons at actuated signals. Moreover, in Poland, drivers inclination to give way to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings is not very high.

7. Conclusions

About 33% of accidents involving pedestrians in Warsaw occur at signalized locations (intersections and road crossings) where pedestrians should in theory be well protected. While the general road safety situation in Poland is improving, it is noted that the number of accidents occurring at signalized pedestrian crossings is not decreasing. Based on analysis of police accident database for years 2010-2014, it can be concluded that in terms of accident numbers the biggest problem occurs on dual carriageway roads and at zebra crossings on intersection exit roadways. However, the highest risk of a fatal accident outcome occurs at midblock signalized crossings and when pedestrians cross tram tracks located in the median. Almost 90% of fatalities were caused by vehicles going straight through the intersection. Statistical tests performed on fatality rates and KSI rates in accidents involving different vehicle manoeuvres show that both rates were significantly lower for turning manoeuvres. Pedestrians over 65 years of age have the highest risk of being killed in an accident. In about one third of cases the accident was caused by either driver (8%) or pedestrian (25%) disobeying the traffic signal and crossing on red.

The above findings suggest that speed reduction measures should be used on intersection approaches and near crossings: refuge islands and deflection of straight vehicle paths. There should also be more enforcement of existing speed limits and red light obedience. More roads should be declared as "Tempo 30 zones" - a solution which is recommended by the EU. A lot can be done to make traffic signals more pedestrian friendly - for example extension of pedestrian green signal periods, elimination of conflicts with left-turning vehicles, etc. The large number of

elderly pedestrians among victims of accidents suggests that the road environment, regulations and existing crossing solutions are not suited to the needs of the ageing society.

In the end it should be noted that the level of safety at pedestrian crossings depends on road user behaviour and respecting of traffic rules by both pedestrians and motorists. Therefore, future research should be focused on observing road user behaviour at pedestrian crossings with different traffic signal arrangements in order to obtain a deeper understanding of pedestrian accident causation. The high accident rates could be minimized by appropriate road and traffic signal design, which must account for possible human errors.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the Warsaw Municipal Road Authority (Zarz^d Drog Miejskich) for providing the accident data.

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