RESEARCH - Social Norming Used to Improve Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian CrossingThe City of St. Paul, Minnesota has created an innovative program to increase driver compliance with the requirement to yield to pedestrians at unsignalized marked crosswalks in the city. Prior to this initiative, The study initially observed 32% of drivers yielding and frequent multiple threat passing incidents.

pedestrian crossing driver compliance sign

A program was implemented that used a phased treatment approach of disseminating educational materials, conducting four waves of high visibility enforcement (HVE), displaying yielding averages on feedback signs across the city, and introducing low-cost engineering solutions through instreet signs. The results demonstrated a significant impact from education, HVE, and engineering to increase yielding to as high as 78% at enforcement sites and 61% at untreated sites. Multiple threat passing was also reduced.

Of interest here is the social norming component, blue and white signs that show weekly driver compliance statistics for the intersection. A study by the University of Minnesota department of Mechanical Engineering found that

The results demonstrated a significant impact from education, HVE, and engineering to increase yielding to as high as 78% at enforcement sites and 61% at untreated sites. Multiple threat passing was also reduced. Overall, the study demonstrated that the HVE program and combined low-cost engineering were effective at improving compliance to the crosswalk law. 

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