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Designing and building safe, efficient roads in densely populated urban areas is an ongoing challenge for city planners and traffic engineers. As populations continue to grow, it’s more important than ever to design complete streets that are safe for all, particularly vulnerable road users. The FHWA promotes these proven countermeasures to improve traffic safety, calm traffic, provide safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists, and reduce crashes — all toward the goal of eliminating fatalities on urban roads.
Install backplates with retroreflective borders on traffic lights to help increase the visibility, consistency and driver recognition of these important traffic signals.
Improve the safety of problematic or dangerous intersections that have stop signs with a combination of safety countermeasures, including retroreflective warning signs and high-visibility pavement markings.
Reduce four-lane urban roads to three lanes — two through lanes and a shared center left-turn lane — to help calm traffic, reduce accidents and create space for bike lanes, curb extensions, median pedestrian refuges and more. Learn more about road diet
Left and right auxiliary turn lanes at intersections provide physical separation between vehicles making turns and through traffic. They help improve safety at most intersections, but particularly so at two-way stop-controlled intersections, where crashes are often related to vehicles performing turns.
Pedestrian crashes account for approximately 15 percent of all traffic fatalities annually. Installing raised medians or pedestrian crossing islands can help improve safety by allowing pedestrians to cross one direction of traffic at a time.
Recommendations for state and local agencies to consider installing bicycle lanes on new and existing roads to help provide safety and comfort to bicyclists.
Speed control is one of the best methods to help reduce fatalities and serious injuries. Urban centers are starting to implement lower local speed limits to help reduce accidents—and more and more research is showing that lower speed limits alone can lead to declines in crashes.¹
1. Hu, W. and J. Cicchino (2019). Lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25 mph in Boston: effects on vehicle speeds. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Increasing crosswalk visibility has been shown to increase safety. High visibility crosswalk markings, improved lighting and signage all work together to help enhance crosswalk safety.
Wider edge lines are defined as markings wider than the minimum 4-inch requirement—up to the 6-inch maximum. The Federal Highway Administration supports the use of wider edge lines to better help drivers clearly identify lane edges and the road alignment ahead.
In urban areas, there are key locations where road users — including motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, people on public transportation, and people using new forms of micro mobility — come into contact. These areas can present significant dangers, especially to vulnerable road users. Learn more about steps you can take to improve safety and mobility in these areas — and how 3M can help.
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