Since early in the highway era, road designers have tended to favor wide, rounded corners, and dedicated slip lanes that let drivers turn through an intersection without having to slow down quite as much. As many engineers and transportation advocates know, however, those wide turning radii can create issues for people trying to cross on foot. They create longer crossing distances, exposing people to traffic longer, and they increase the chance of a pedestrian crash by 50 percent or more, according to one new study.
Looking to improve safety and eliminate traffic fatalities, at least 17 American cities have committed to Vision Zero. In addition to ramping up education and enforcement, these efforts require road designers to rethink streets and intersections in ways that minimize risks to non-motorized users. This often means correcting issues resulting from a strict, decades-long focus on vehicle movement.
After a spike in traffic deaths in the first half of 2015, USDOT and NHTSA have offered a response that fast tracks the development of safety technologies and strives to improve driver behaviors. However, it is silent on roadway design.