Traffic and Pedestrian Safety

Safety Tips for Vehicle and Pedestrian Traffic
in and around Radford University


Stay Alert! Expect anything in a school zone.

Pay close attention to signs, markings and signals.

Don’t tailgate! Unexpected stops frequently occur in school zones.

Don’t Speed! Note the posted speed limits and obey them.

Be Patient! The pedestrian has the right-of-way.


Always walk on the sidewalks. If there is no sidewalk and you must walk on the road, always walk facing traffic, so you can see any car that might go out of control.

Dress to be seen. Brightly colored clothing makes it easier for a driver to see you during daytime. At night, you need to wear white or reflective clothing.

Cross only at corners or marked crosswalks.

Stop at the curb, or edge of the road. Look left, then right, then left again before you step into the street.

If a car is parked where you are crossing, go to the edge of the vehicle and look left and right before crossing.

Always walk. Don’t run.

The Facts


Many years ago when traffic volumes were much lower than they are today, pedestrians could take their cues from the same traffic lights as motorists. Since then new signals were introduced to improve pedestrian safety. We hope to answer the most common questions about pedestrian signals.

Why are pedestrian signals available at some intersections and not at others?
Pedestrian signals are installed at intersections for two main reasons: a high volume of foot traffic, or, the signals that direct motorists do not meet the needs of pedestrians.

For example, some intersections occur at odd angles and the traffic signals can’t be seen by pedestrians. At other locations, turning and merging lanes make intersections so complex that special provisions must be made for pedestrians.

Shouldn’t pedestrian signals be available at every intersection?
If existing traffic signals meet the needs of people on foot — the signals are easy to see and provide plenty of time to cross safely — there is no need for special pedestrian signals.

Why are the words WALK and DON’T WALK being replaced by symbols? Transportation engineers worldwide are moving toward the use of symbols in place of words on signs because they are easier for people to comprehend in a shorter amount of time. Easily recognized symbols also accommodate people who don’t read English.

Why does it always say DON’T WALK before I’ve completed crossing the street?
The flashing DON’T WALK or upraised hand is a warning to people who have not yet entered the intersection. It means that it is too late to start to safely cross the street before the traffic signal changes and allows cars to proceed. Signals are timed to allow plenty of time for people who have already started walking to safely cross the street.

Is it really necessary for me to push a button to activate the pedestrian signal? Can’t I just wait for the light to change?
Buttons are available to pedestrians at locations where the traffic light is set for cars, not for people on foot. If you don’t activate the pedestrian signal by pushing the button, the pedestrian signal across the main roadway will not activate, and the traffic light may not give you enough time to safely cross the street. You only need to push the button once for it to be activated.

Can I count on a safe crossing if I carefully follow the pedestrian signals?
The signals assign your legal rights in the intersection. However, it is important to be cautious when crossing any intersection.


Cross intersections carefully.

When crossing the street, regardless of the availability of signals, cross as quickly as possible. Minimize your time in the roadway.

Always watch for turning vehicles. Having the legal right of way doesn’t protect you from careless motorists.


What is a crosswalk?
A crosswalk is an extension of the road, sidewalk, curb or edge of the shoulder at an intersection. Crosswalks can be either marked or unmarked. A marked crosswalk is any portion of the roadway outlined by white painted markings or a different texture of concrete, such as brick pavers, etc. These markings indicate that a portion of the roadway is designated for pedestrian travel.

How are crosswalks used?
At any crosswalk (marked or unmarked) drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians who are within the crosswalk. Crosswalks are marked mainly to encourage pedestrians to use a particular crossing. Marked crosswalks and associated signing provide visual cues to drivers to be alert for pedestrians.

Where are crosswalks normally marked?
Crosswalks are usually marked at intersections where there is a substantial amount of vehicle and pedestrian travel. Examples of such locations are along school routes and at signalized and four-way stop intersections.

Marking crosswalks encourages crossing at a particular location. For example, school children are guided to a crossing which is usually supervised. Pedestrians are encouraged to use the marked crossing location to avoid crossing where they do not have the right of way.

What are mid-block crosswalks?
Occasionally crosswalks are marked at mid-block locations to accommodate greater pedestrian traffic or where there is a substantial distance between corner crosswalks. In these instances the painted lines should be supplemented by signs advising motorists of the crossings. As with crosswalks at intersections, drivers approaching the crosswalk must yield the right of way to pedestrians.

What causes pedestrian/vehicle accidents at marked crosswalks?
Even though pedestrians have the right of way at marked crosswalks, pedestrian/vehicle accidents do occur. Research suggests that pedestrians may have a false sense of security at marked crosswalks. They may step off the curb into the crosswalk and expect oncoming vehicles to stop. However, drivers sometimes fail to stop.

Another frequent cause of accidents at mid-block crosswalks happens when the driver of a vehicle nearest the curb stops for a pedestrian who is waiting to cross or who is already in the crosswalk. Then the driver of a vehicle in the lane next to the stopped vehicle may try to pass the stopped vehicle and hit the pedestrian. Pedestrians should be very cautious when crossing in a crosswalk, especially when their visibility is limited by vehicles already stopped at the crosswalk as illustrated.

At all crosswalks, both marked and unmarked, it is the responsibility of the motorist to yield to pedestrians and the pedestrian's responsibility to be cautious and alert before crossing the street.

Keep in mind...

While the law assigns pedestrians the right of way if they have appropriately entered a crosswalk, it does not relieve pedestrians of using due care for their safety.

Any pedestrian entering a roadway outside a crosswalk gives up the right of way to vehicles on the roadway. However, this does not relieve a driver from the duty of exercising care for the safety of pedestrians on the roadway.

Pedestrians should keep to the right when walking in a crosswalk.

Drivers of vehicles about to turn into a driveway, alley, garage or private road are required to yield the right of way to pedestrians on sidewalks.

At intersections where traffic is controlled by signals or a traffic officer, pedestrians must obey the signal and not cross against the stop signal unless specifically directed to go by a traffic officer.

Pedestrians who have started to cross at a crosswalk on a go signal have the right of way until they reach the opposite curb or place of safety, such as a median.

Much of the threat to walking safely comes from motorists' speed. The faster a motorist drives, the more likely he or she is to be involved in a crash, and the more likely injuries to a person on foot will be serious, if not fatal.

When people walking are hit by a car... 20 mph, only 5% of walkers are killed. 30 mph, 45% of walkers are killed, and most others are seriously injured.

...At 40 mph, 85% of walkers are killed

Source: Killing Speed and Saving Lives