V. Branzi, M. Meocci, L. Domenichini, F. La Torre
Pedestrian injuries and fatalities represent one of the major road safety problems all around the world. In 2016, according to the Italian data 570 pedestrians were killed and more than 21,000 were injured in traffic-related crash; moreover than 50% of accidents that involve pedestrians occur at pedestrian crossings. The speed of the approaching cars to crosswalk is frequently inadequate especially in the peripheral area of the urban road network where roads are usually designed promoting mobility but actually provide access to roadside activities as well. For improving the safety of these vulnerable road users in these contexts speed reducing measures play a relevant role. This paper describes a driving simulator study designed to evaluate the drivers’ behavior in response to different configurations of pedestrian crossings located on urban collector roads. Forty-eight participants drove a test route while data on their reaction time and on the maneuvers carry out in the moment of perception of the pedestrian crosswalk were collected. A statistically significant difference was revealed as a function of the type of engineering treatments. The most effective treatment was the pedestrian crossing located on speed humps with sinusoidal profile and with the colored surface, which generated the maximum speed reduction. The drivers were able to perceive in advance the pedestrian that suddenly crossed the street and the consequent maneuvers were carried out in a more effective way. In addition a benefits-costs evaluation allow demonstrating that a modest speed reduction will have a considerable effect on the probability of pedestrian fatality and allowing important social costs savings. Driving simulators offer a safe environment in which to test driver response while approaching pedestrian crossings, exploiting the important contribution that virtual reality techniques may offer while studying driver-road interactions.
Keywords: vulnerable road users; driving simulator; driving behavior; urban collector road; road safety