Pedestrian countdown signals have become a common feature at intersections throughout South Carolina and states across the country. These signals display the amount of time pedestrians have to cross the street before traffic signals will turn red. Although these signals have been adopted in cities all over the United States, as well as other countries, a new study detailed in a recent NPR segment has found that they may pose unintended consequences – including increases in vehicle collisions at intersections.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Calgary, looked at the effects of installing countdown timers at close to 1,800 intersections in Toronto. The researchers found that while these timers lowered the number of pedestrian accidents, they increased the number of vehicle-to-vehicle collisions at intersections.
Some interesting findings from the study include:
- Many drivers actually speed up when they notice that the countdown signal is about to end in order to get through the intersection.
- The largest increase involved rear-end accidents. Researchers believe this is because when two drivers approach an intersection, the driver in front may slow down when they see the timer is running out while the driver in rear speeds up to make the light, thinking that the person in front will do the same.
- Drivers are becoming conditioned to speed up when the countdown timer approaches zero.
The most interesting part of this study is that an invention which has made intersections safer for pedestrians is potentially making them more dangerous for motorists. Researchers are working on ways to fix this, including the possibility of using audio only signals to alert pedestrians crossing the street.
At George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, our South Carolina car accident attorneys support new efforts and research that make our roadways safer places. We know that while this is not an easy task, the need for reducing all accidents at intersections – including pedestrian accidents and car wrecks – is a must.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car wreck, our firm is here to help! We are committed to helping you get the compensation you deserve and work with clients throughout the state from office locations in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, and beyond. Request a free case review today!