Evaluating the safety of countdown timers
Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013 4:49PM MDT Last Updated Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:55PM MDT
Crosswalk countdown timers are installed to let pedestrians know how much time they have to get across an intersection but a new study is suggesting that drivers are using the timers to beat the lights.
Arvind Magesan is an assistant professor at the University of Calgary and is looking into countdown timers at pedestrian crossings.
Toronto installed timers in all of its intersections which gave Magesan a base line for his study.
Mageson says his study found that pedestrians benefit from the timers but motorists don't.
He says that when motorists speed up to beat the light their timing can be off and they can crash into other vehicles.
“The problem here is that the drivers can see the countdown too and that makes them speed up, whereas if you could just give the information to the pedestrians maybe you solve this whole problem and you wouldn't have the car accidents, while making pedestrian lives safer,” said Magesan.
Magesan says car crashes at the intersections in Toronto increased by about one per day with the installation of the timers.
The City of Calgary says it looks to the Transportation Association of Canada for guidelines to decide where to put its timers.
“And what those guidelines entail for countdown signals are everything from pedestrian volumes, type of pedestrians at that intersection, so if there’s a high amount of pedestrians with low mobility or children or seniors, as well as traffic volumes come into play as well and all of these things really let us know how we can and where we can put the traffic signals of this kind.” said Jennifer Thompson-Goldberg from the city.
Magesan says his data varies depending on the type and locations of the intersections but overall intersections in Toronto were safer for pedestrians because of the installation of the timers.
(With files from Kevin Fleming)