Determining Confusion for Traditional and Experimental Pedestrian Signals in Rural and Suburban Areas in the United States

  •  Wakeel Idewu    
  •  Dogucan Mazicioglu    
  •  Hana Naghawi    


Walking is a mode of travel used by billions of people daily. Facilities that promote walking such as crosswalks often involve sharing space with conflicting vehicular traffic. These areas are not immune to receiving pedestrians that either do not obey or do not understand today’s pedestrian signals, which are used to communicate periods of safe crossing. Therefore, improving comprehension would subsequently improve safety and crash rates. The Traditional Pedestrian Signal in the United States displays an illuminated man and a hand to indicate a cautionary-crossing period, a transition period, and a crossing-prohibited period. This signal type was evaluated and compared to a relatively new Experimental Pedestrian Signal. The Experimental Pedestrian Signal presented in this paper utilized the figure of a walking man changing only by the colors green, yellow, and red. Both signals were analyzed to identify the phases that best communicated the intended action. Video files depicting a Traditional and Experimental Signal were administered with a questionnaire to test the comprehension of rural and suburban participants. The results indicated that the Experimental Pedestrian Signal was not better understood than the current Traditional Signal, although a vast majority of participants preferred the Experimental Signal. The lowest comprehension occurred during the transition phase for both pedestrian signal types. The results also suggest that the interpretation of the yellow color varies by location and may invoke mixed responses if incorporated in pedestrian signals. A more appropriate solution may be to combine both symbolic and color cues into future pedestrian signals.

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