The Flashing Right Turn Signal with Pedestrian Indication: A Human Factors Study to Assess Driver Comprehension
Given the increased fatality risk of older pedestrians, and the large and growing older adult population in the United States and around the world, many countermeasures to ensure aging pedestrian safety have been explored (e.g., different types of crosswalk markings). The present study sought to investigate the potential of an experimental countermeasure, the flashing pedestrian indicator (FPI). This signal, intended for right-turning drivers, alternates between a yellow arrow and a pedestrian symbol when a pedestrian calls for a walk phase at a signalized intersection. The purpose of this signal is to cue right-turning drivers to the potential presence of a pedestrian, encourage scanning to the right for crossing pedestrians, and promote driver yielding behaviors. We conducted a study to gauge the comprehension of drivers who were naïve to the signal to explore if the FPI’s intended message was understood. Participants were presented with scenarios depicting the FPI and other signal states and were asked the meaning of the observed signal (open-ended and multiple choice questions). Comprehension was tested across a range of age groups: younger (21–35 years), middle-aged (50–64), and older adult (65+) drivers. While in general the signal was understood, some participants were confused regarding the meaning of the FPI in certain situations. Potential positive effects of the FPI need to be weighed against potential confusion before any further recommendations can be made regarding the FPI as a potential countermeasure to assist with pedestrian crashes.
KeywordsPedestrian safety Transportation safety Traffic signals Older adults
This project was funded by the Florida Department of Transportation. We offer special thanks to our Project Managers Raj Ponnaluri and Alan S. El-Urfali for their guidance, patience, and assistance. We thank Gail Holley and Angela Wilhelm for their invaluable feedback regarding stimulus development. We would also like to thank Craig Carnegie for his assistance with scheduling. Finally, we thank the many Florida State University psychology undergraduates who worked on this project. We are also extremely grateful to all the Florida residents who participated in this research.
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