Local News

New crossing signal helps protect pedestrians from turning vehicles

Posted May 29, 2014 3:57 p.m. EDT
Updated May 29, 2014 6:54 p.m. EDT

— 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.