Date of Award

12-2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Ronald Van Houten

Abstract

Several methods have been examined to increase motorists’ yielding to pedestrians and the distance at which they yield on multilane crosswalks at uncontrolled locations with relatively high average daily traffic (ADT). A series of 5 experiments were conducted to evaluate the efficacy of rectangular rapid-flashing beacons (RRFBs) as effective pedestrian crossing aides. The first experiment found that the RRFBs produced a significant increase in yielding behavior at all 26 sites located in 3 cities in the United States. Data collected over a 2-year follow-up period at 22 of these sites plus 14-month follow-up at an additional 4 sites documented the long-term maintenance of yielding produced by RRFBs. A second experiment provides a comparison of RRFBs to a traditional side-mounted and overhead mounted yellow flashing beacon. This experiment documents higher driver yielding associated with RRFBs. Data from a third experiment demonstrated that aiming the RRFBs at a dilemma zone to maximize its salience increased the efficacy of the system, while another variant was not found to influence the systems efficacy. A fourth experiment evaluated the RRFB at two locations equipped with warning systems located in advance of the crosswalk. This experiment found that the addition of the advance warning system did not increase yielding percentages but did increase the distance of yielding. A fifth experiment employed lane-restricting markings placed on the approach to uncontrolled mid-block pedestrian crossings to decrease motorists’ speed and increase headway. This study was performed to evaluate a treatment that is a less expensive and aversive form of traffic calming when compared to traditional means (i.e., speed bumps, humps, and tables, rumble strips, and roundabouts/traffic circles,) and less expensive than much of the technologically complex methods of increasing headway (i.e., in-vehicle visual and/or auditory feedback systems and automated braking). Results have shown a general decrease in speed associated with an increase in headway. Additionally, the distance between vehicles in parallel lanes, trajectory, was increased. General results show the RRFB devices to be effective countermeasures in traffic management and safety.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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