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Study: Drivers aren’t looking for pedestrians

AdobeStock_80665211.jpegMotorists and pedestrians are supposed to share the road respectfully. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Too often, cars strike pedestrians because drivers fail to take certain precautions to avoid a collision, including thoroughly scanning the roadway for pedestrians and cyclists.  

And a recent study confirms this. The study could also explain at least a few reasons why pedestrians are in such a dangerous position at intersections, even when they comply with traffic laws and signals.

Taking a look at the study

The study comes out of Toronto, but the findings are relevant to any major city, including Atlanta.

Researchers utilized eye-tracking equipment with 19 drivers they identified as being a low risk for crashing. The participants then made right-hand turns at two different intersections, after which the researchers analyzed where the drivers were looking before and while turning. 

What the researchers saw

The researchers found significant failures in visual scans for pedestrians. More than half of the participants failed to look at areas where pedestrians or cyclists could be before making their turns. The drivers also failed to make frequent looks over their shoulders to check for bicyclists.

Certain factors made it even more difficult for drivers to properly scan for pedestrians, including visibility problems and inconsistent use of bike lanes. Busy intersections also create a lot of visual distraction and confusion for drivers who must watch for traffic, obey traffic signals and be mindful of the motorists around them.

Familiarity with the area also appeared to be a factor. Those who were more familiar with the area seemed to be less cautious at the intersections.

What to keep in mind to avoid a pedestrian accident

When there is an accident between a pedestrian and a motor vehicle, pedestrians can pay a catastrophic price for negligence or inattention. As such, we should all be mindful of what we can do to prevent pedestrian accidents.

For pedestrians, this could mean remembering that drivers do not and cannot always see you. For motorists, this could mean slowing down and doing a thorough scan of an intersection before entering it.