Local News

New crossing signal helps protect pedestrians from turning vehicles

Posted May 29, 2014

— Drivers are supposed to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, but it doesn’t always happen. Now, Raleigh engineers have found a way to tweak the signals to protect pedestrians.

Transportation engineers say a new kind of crossing signal, called Leading Pedestrian Interval, can make a big difference. It gives pedestrians a few extra seconds of a walk signal before a traffic signal turns green. This gives pedestrians time to walk at least halfway through the crosswalk before vehicles start turning through the crosswalk.

Kimberly Kimble says she frequents downtown and feels pretty safe -- but always stays on her toes.

“Some of the drivers don’t pay attention to pedestrians,” Kimble said. “They’ll just turn into the crosswalk without looking to see if there are any pedestrians.”

City transportation engineer Jed Niffenegger says Fayetteville Street is a good place to start with the new signals.

“We rarely use them,” Niffenegger said. “We only use them in locations where pedestrian volume is very high.”

The new crossing signals along the rest of Fayetteville Street should be activated in the next week or so.

“The pedestrian volume is almost as heavy as the vehicular, so the leading pedestrian interval made sense,” Niffenegger said.

Kimble says she hopes drivers take notice.

The city’s crosswalk signals are also getting an upgrade to help the visually impaired.

Crews are replacing the chirping signals with ones that use an audible message that tell walkers when it’s safe to cross.

Those changes will happen over the summer.


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  • AskWhy May 30, 2014

    Raleigh was just not designed to be pedestrian friendly (or cyclist or runners, etc for that matter). I hope these new signals have the desired effect (who will be monitoring these by the way?). If so, then maybe Raleigh can do something about the crosswalks on Wilmington St in-between the intersections. Whose bright idea was THAT? One of the main streets thru downtown Raleigh, choked with constant traffic AND vehicles parked on both sides and they put crosswalks?? You either risk hitting a pedestrian or getting rear-ended by osmeone behind you who does not understand why you are stopping

  • Grand Union May 30, 2014

    Why not keep it simple? when lights to walk are green, all lights for cars are red (with no turn on red)
    Then both sides know when its safe to move through the intersection. Really guys thats the way the rest of the world does it!

  • gardenrose2007 May 30, 2014

    I work downtown and am extra cautious when crossing the streets. Several years ago my mother was struck by a car while we were legally crossing a street, and she is now completely disabled. Forgive me if I don't have any sympathy for those that have to wait a few extra moments to keep people safe, leave the house earlier and it won't matter!

  • sunshine1040 May 30, 2014

    Pedisterian may have right of way but you still should be paying attention to whee you are walking turn off the phone and look where you are going and then I know some of us are slower then others but we should be given ample time to cross the street before it changes again

  • jonrosstaylor May 30, 2014

    In 2011, I had a firsthand seat to a fatal accident on Falls of Neuse road. A pedestrian was halfway across the road when the light turned green, and froze/stopped in front of my car. I watched as he then stepped out from in front of my car into traffic, and was struck and killed by a vehicle which didn't see him and had no chance to even brake. The driver was a mother with her small child in the car. The bottom line? Raleigh is a bad city for pedestrians. Anything which help prevent tragedies like that is good in my book, even if it costs a few seconds of green light time.

  • miseem May 30, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I'm starting to hear about problems with inattentive pedestrians similar to inattentive drivers. As you said, the pedestrian may be right, but that doesn't do much good if you are dead. I've witnessed pedestrians glued to their smart phones, just glancing up to see if the walk light was on, without making sure cars had stopped. Once saw a lady pushing a stroller at a pedestrian signaled pedestrian crosswalk (not at a road intersection) . She glanced very briefly at the crosswalk signal, never looked to see if a car was coming, and pushed ahead with the stroller, never looking up from her smartphone. Anyone hitting the stroller would be charged, but do you really want to risk you child's life so you can check your facebook account?

  • Warm Soft Dose of Snah May 30, 2014

    This probably won't get through the bias'ed moderators but I've been on both sides of the pedestrian-motorist problem as most people have. Honestly, I think that the law saying that pedestrians have the absolute 'right of way' is a bad law because it makes people feel like they can just walk right out in front of a moving car and the car must stop. The problem is that motorists are (or can be) distracted or just not see the pedestrian. Sure the pedestrian has the right of way by the law, but that doesn't do the pedestrian any good when they are in the hospital or even worse. I'm not saying that motorists should have the right to just ignore pedestrians, but I believe that pedestrians should also be held responsible if they just walk out in front of a moving car. You can break the laws of the land, but you can't break the laws of Physics.

  • lewiskr45 May 30, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Sorry you have to wait a few extra seconds, but get over it. And tweaking a computer program to delay a green light by a few seconds probably doesn't cost much (or anything).

  • Rod Runner May 30, 2014
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    Right turn on red has nothing to do with this. It is cars that are turning on green lights that do not yield to the pedestrians already in the crosswalk that have a walk light. Right turners and left turners both do this. And if you are one of the few people who do stop for pedestrians when you're turning on a green light, prepare to be honked at.

  • Rolling Along May 30, 2014

    Right turn on red was one of the worst things they have ever done for pedestrian safety. Cars are supposed to STOP then make the turn if it is safe to do so, seldom happens, roll them lights.