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Installing Pedestrian Crossing Signs: Rules for Different Types of Locations

Methods for using pedestrian crossing signs will vary depending on factors such as local terrain, traffic patterns, and nearby landmarks.  The following is a general guide to the subject.

Reasons for Installing Pedestrian Crossing Signs

These may include:

·         To mark school walking routes.

·         To alert drivers to pedestrian pathways.

·         To direct pedestrians to a desired crossing location.

Pedestrian Crossing Signs at Uncontrolled Crossings

Officials must exercise caution when using crossing signs at uncontrolled locations.  In some ways, these signs can actually reduce rather than enhance pedestrian crosswalk safety.  This may be the case in the following types of locations:

·         Areas where the speed limit exceeds 40 miles per hour.

·         Roadways with four or more lanes, especially in areas where average daily traffic exceeds 15,000 vehicles.

In such locations, officials should either forgo pedestrian crossing signs or use them in conjunction with traffic signals, street lighting, or raised medians.

Pedestrian Crossing Signs at Marked Crosswalks

Officials should place marked crosswalks in locations that offer the best prospects for pedestrian crosswalk safety.  They should use accident statistics, traffic volume data, and other relevant factors to identify these areas.  Yellow striping alone may suffice for two-lane roads with low traffic volume.

On multilane streets that see an average traffic volume of 12,000 or more vehicles per day, authorities should use supplementary treatments such as raised medians and electric signage to help ensure pedestrian crosswalk safety.  Embedding glass beads in the crosswalk surface is an excellent way to raise its visibility, especially at night.

In-Street Pedestrian Crossing Signs

In-street pedestrian signs have been shown to significantly increase driver yielding by raising the visibility of a crosswalk substantially.  Because these signs are vulnerable to damage from vehicle collisions it is important to use flexible signs in these areas.  Impact Recovery Systems offers an industry-leading line of In-Street Pedestrian Crosswalk Signs.

Overhead and Flashing Pedestrian Crossing Signs

Overhead or flashing signs are especially helpful at busy crossings that cut across multilane or high-speed streets.  They are normally placed mid-block.  Flashing beacons are sometimes used as well.  These signs may be programmed to flash only at preset times, or when a pedestrian pushes an activation button.

Special Rules for School Zones

School areas require additional safeguards to ensure student safety.  Some features commonly used in these locations include the following:

·         Alert signs placed ahead of the school zone.

·         Special speed limit signs advising drivers to slow down.

·         Rectangular flashing beacons.

In-Pavement Flashers

The MUTCD permits these devices at crosswalks, provided a traffic signal, STOP sign, or YIELD sign is not currently in place.  Studies give conflicting data as to the effectiveness of in-pavement flashers.  Most experts recommend using them only when other solutions have been considered and disregarded as ineffective.

Stop/Yield Lines

These markings encourage drivers to stop or slow down well before they reach a crosswalk.  They provide greater visibility for pedestrians and motorists and can help to prevent collisions on multilane roads.  The MUTCD recommends placing yield or stop lines 20 to 50 feet in advance of a crosswalk.

Pedestrian Crossing Signs and Parking Restrictions

Vehicles parked along a roadside can seriously compromise visibility near crosswalks.  To avoid these problems, officials should restrict parking within at least 20 feet of either side of the crosswalk.  If possible, a 30-foot restriction is preferable.

Pedestrian Crossing Signs and Associated Costs

In a perfect world, the need for pedestrian crossing signs and other traffic safety measures would not exist.  In reality, however, these measures are crucial, and they can strain local budgets.  Because of this, officials should prioritize use of pedestrian crossing signs to ensure they are used for maximum effect.  This benefits not only pedestrians but taxpayers as well.