High-visibility intersections

Intersections in urban areas are full of distractions and potential collision points between motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and people using new modes of transportation like scooters and mopeds. Raising the visibility of intersections and designating safe zones for vulnerable road users can help reduce accidents and save lives.

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), over 50% of fatal and injury crashes happen at or near an intersection.
High-angle shot of urban intersection with pedestrians, crosswalks, protected bike lanes and car entering frame.
Increase the visibility of intersections to improve urban safety and mobility.

Solutions for improving the visibility of intersections

Easy-to-implement, effective, low-cost solutions can improve the visibility of intersections in urban areas. By designing complete streets that are forgiving and intuitive for everyone sharing the roads, we can help reduce conflict points, prevent wrong way driving and collisions, and improve urban safety.

  • Urban intersection with crosswalks, protected bike lanes and two pedestrians on sidewalk.
    Curb extensions

    Extended curbs or curb bump outs marked by high-visibility pavement markings, signs and delineators can help calm traffic and designate safe zones for pedestrians and cyclists to wait to cross the road, protected from motor vehicle traffic.

    Learn about the impact of curb extensions (PDF, 396 KB)

  • Adult riding bicycle with small child in child seat on urban road near crosswalk.
    Pedestrian crossings

    Highly visible crosswalks marked with pavement markings and retroreflective signs alert pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to designated pedestrian crossing areas and help give drivers enough time to react to pedestrians in the road.

    Enhance crosswalk visibility (PDF, 358 KB)

  • Line of orange bollards with white reflective tape to distinguish protected lane on road.
    Divided traffic lanes

    Channelizers that divide lanes or designate left turn lanes can help reduce conflict points between vehicles at intersections. Add highly visible retroreflective sheeting to channelizers to help drivers see them in a range of conditions, including at night or in the rain.

  • Colorful painted pavement for scooter parking on urban road, with scooters and person holding handlebars of scooter.
    Designated mobility hub

    Designating bus stops, pedestrian zones at crosswalks, scooter zones, vehicle parking zones, bike boxes, etc., can help reduce conflict points at intersections. High-visibility markings, symbols and legends on the sidewalk or road, retroreflective traffic signs and channelizers can all provide visual cues and help increase the safety of these zones.

The problem with intersections: the conflict points add up

Any time two paths cross — like a pedestrian crossing the street as a vehicle approaches — there’s a potential point of conflict. With vehicles traveling multiple different directions, vehicles turning left and right, varying intersection angles, cyclists and vehicles sharing turn lanes, pedestrians trying to cross the street and buses stopping for passengers, a typical intersection has 32 potential conflict points.

  • In 2018, about 4.2 billion people lived in urban areas around the world. That number is expected to grow by an additional 2.5 billion by 2050. This rapid rise in urbanization has many benefits, but it also comes with challenges for city planners and transportation engineers working to promote safe, accessible, efficient transportation in their cities. Learn more about the steps you can take to improve safety and mobility on urban roads.

    Read more about building safer roads for urban growth

  • Graphic of urban intersection with pedestrians, bicyclist and vehicles using crosswalk, protected bike lane and road.
    Watch: helping you design more visible intersections

Traffic safety products for high-visibility intersections

3M traffic safety devices are engineered to be highly visible, more rugged and more versatile for a range of applications on your urban roads.

Related to high-visibility intersections

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