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PEDESTRIANS, DRIVERS RISK SAFETY, OLD DOMINION RESEARCH REVEALS

Almost half of the motorists passing through traffic intersections didn't look for pedestrians or other traffic before entering crossroads, a recent study in Northern Virginia by Old Dominion and George Mason universities concluded.

In a study of four intersections in Arlington County concluded earlier this summer, 45 percent of drivers entering an intersection did not move their heads to look for pedestrians or other traffic and a third of pedestrians who looked before crossing an intersection looked the wrong way. Twenty-seven percent of pedestrians entered an intersection against a solid "don't walk" signal.

The intersections -- Columbia Pike and South Courthouse Road, Columbia Pike and South Greenbrier Street, Columbia Pike and South Walter Reed Drive and Columbia Pike and South Glebe Road -- were all identified as intersections with a history of pedestrian/vehicle collisions.

"As part of the 'Walk This Way' program, brochures were distributed in English and Spanish during lunch and evening hours when there were numerous opportunities for pedestrian and vehicle conflicts," said Bryan Porter, associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion and the project's principal investigator. "Our goal was to increase pedestrians' use of crosswalks and pedestrian signals and drivers' yielding and looking out for pedestrians." The program continues through August.

The project was cosponsored by the Arlington County Police, the Arlington County Department of Human Services and the Arlington County Department of Planning, Housing and Development in partnership with Old Dominion's Department of Psychology and George Mason's Center for the Advancement of Public Health. A grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles funds the initiative.

This article was posted on: August 8, 2002

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