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Accidents involving pedestrians on crosswalks are a common cause of fatalities in urban areas. Several companies are now promoting a system for increasing the conspicuity of a crosswalk when a pedestrian is on it. The system consists of a series of high-intensity luminaires buried in the pavement so as to light both sides of the crosswalk and direct light along the road towards oncoming traffic. When activated, the lamps in the luminaire flash. The bright flashing lights lining the crosswalk draw attention to the crosswalk making it more likely that drivers will pay attention to what is happening there and act appropriately. The Department of Transportation of the State of New Jersey has installed one of these systems at two crosswalks in Denville, New Jersey. This project is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of these in-ground warning lights, over and above the conventional approach to marking crosswalks by striping and signs.

Using field observations, the Lighting Research Center has measured the response of drivers when approaching a crosswalk, with and without the in-ground warning lights and the actions of pedestrians using crosswalks, with and without the in-ground warning system. Measurements to date indicate that newly painted striping on the crosswalks alone reduces conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles, in the sense that it is then rare for vehicles and pedestrians to be on the crosswalk at the same time. Striping alone does not produce a reduction in vehicle approach speeds. Adding in-ground flashing lights leads to a reduction in vehicle approach speeds and less waiting times for pedestrians. However, drivers? behavior shows uncertainty about the correct response to the flashing lights. Some education about the expected behavior is necessary.