Pedestrian Countdown Signals: What Impact on Safe Crossing?

DOI: 10.4236/ojce.2013.33B007   PDF   HTML     4,740 Downloads   8,440 Views   Citations


This paper examines safety impacts of a Pedestrian Countdown Signal (PCS) installed on a busy downtown intersection in San Diego, California. Crossing episodes of over 5000 pedestrians were videotaped and analyzed using multivariate statistical methods. Details of timing of pedestrian crossing as well as information about vehicular traffic and signal timing were carefully coded for each pedestrian. Significant safety benefits of the PCS system were found on the long crossings over a street with high vehicular volumes: most pedestrians were able to effectively increase their walking speed to complete their crossing without committing the exit violation—even if they have already committed the entry violation. However, on the short crossing with light vehicular traffic, PCS was generally ineffective in preventing the entry violations from becoming exit violations. Over there, many pedestrians felt safe enough to walk over a short crossing with no apparent vehicular traffic in sight instead of waiting for a green signal. The length of crossing and volume of interfering vehicular traffic were consistently found the most significant variables affecting the crossing violation rates of different categories of pedestrians. Crossing violation rates were the highest for runners, bicyclists and older males. Crossing violation characteristics were found to be consistent over time.

Share and Cite:

J. Supernak, V. Verma and I. Supernak, "Pedestrian Countdown Signals: What Impact on Safe Crossing?," Open Journal of Civil Engineering, Vol. 3 No. 3B, 2013, pp. 39-45. doi: 10.4236/ojce.2013.33B007.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] F. Markovitz, S. Sciortino, J. Fleck and B. Yee, “Pedestrian Countdown Signals: Experience with an Extensive Pilot Installation,” ITE Journal, 2006.
[2] J. Leonard, M. Juckes and B. Clement, “Safety & Behavior: Behavioral Evaluation of Pedestrians and Motorists towards Pedestrian Countdown Signals, Report by Dessau-Soprin Inc. for the City of Monterey, California,” 1999.
[3] S. S. Pulugurtha and S. S. Nambisan, “Effectiveness of Pedestrian CountdowAZSn Timers to Enhance Safety in Las Vegas,” Institute of Transportation Engineers District 6 Annual Meeting, Sacramento, June 2004.
[4] J. L. Botha, A. A. Zabyshny, J. E. Day, R. L. Northouse, J. O. Rodriguez and T. L. Nix, “Pedestrian Countdown Signals Study in the City of San Jose: Final Report to the CaliforniaTraffic Control Devices Com-mittee,” 2002.
[5] H. Huang and C. Zeeger, “The Effect of Pedestrian Countdown Signals in Lake Buena Vista,” Report for the Florida Department of Transportation, 2000.
[6] J. Supernak and S. Chavez, “Evaluation of Two Pedestrian Countdown Systems at the Crosswalks in the City of San Diego,” Report for the City of San Diego, 2005.
[7] W. J. Ma, Z. Z. Wu and X. G. Yang, “Empirical Analysis of Pedestrian Countdown Signals in Shanghai,” TRB 88th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers, Washington DC, 11-15 January 2009, 11 p.
[8] A. Hooper, V. Vencatachellum and M. Tse, “Trial of Pedestrian Signals Incorporating a Numerical Countdown Display in Auckland CBD,” Presented at the IPENZ Transportation Group Conference, Tauranga, 2007.
[9] V. Verma, “Effectiveness of Countdown Pedestrian Systems in Downtown San Diego,” M.S. Thesis, San Diego State University, 2012.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2020 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.