ITS and Pedestrian Safety: An Evaluation of Automatic Pedestrian Detection at Signalized Intersections

Abstract

The present study evaluated the ability of automated pedestrian detection capabilities to provide the means to detect the presence of pedestrians as they approach the curb prior to crossing the street, and then to use that information to 'call' the WALK signal without any action required on the part of the pedestrian. The automated detection of pedestrians is not a new concept, having been used successfully in the United Kingdom and elsewhere as part of the PUFFIN (Pedestrian User Friendly Intelligent) and PUSSYCAT (Pedestrian Urban Safety System and Comfort at Traffic Signals) crossing concepts. In the present case, automatic detection was used to augment the use of the standard pedestrian push button, which experience indicates many pedestrians fail to use. Failure to use the pushbutton results in the failure of the system to display the progression of WALK, flashing DON'T WALK, and steady DON'T WALK signals. The objective of the present study was to evaluate whether automated pedestrian detection systems, when used in conjunction with the push button, would result in fewer overall pedestrian / vehicle conflicts and fewer inappropriate crossings (e.g, beginning to cross during DON'T WALK phase). " Before " and " after " video data were collected at intersection locations in Los Angeles, CA (infrared and microwave), Phoenix, AZ (microwave), and Rochester, NY (microwave). The results indicated that the use of automated detection devices in conjunction with the standard pedestrian pushbutton resulted in a reduction in vehicle-pedestrian conflicts as well as a reduction in the number of pedestrians beginning to cross during the DON'T WALK phase. The data reported in this paper were collected as part of a larger study effort which evaluated illuminated pedestrian push buttons, pedestrian countdown timers, and in-pavement flashing crosswalk treatments as well as automated detection applications. Underlying the presumed effectiveness of such treatments is the hypothesis that a more informative pedestrian crossing environment is a safer pedestrian environment.

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