The City of Los Angeles is installing 15 new pedestrian signals in the downtown area to reduce the risk of accidents while people cross the street. The signals belong to a new class of traffic-safety devices called headstart signals or leading pedestrian intervals, which are especially helpful in protecting pedestrians from vehicles attempting to make right-hand turns. The headstart signals allow people to begin crossing the street at intersections a full four seconds before motor vehicles receive a green light.
L.A. Councilman Champions Pedestrian Safety
Problems have emerged in the urban centers of many cities because of the number of pedestrians being injured or killed in accidents involving cars and trucks. However, Los Angeles is one of the first to make a major commitment to prevent and reduce pedestrian accidents with new technology, such as leading pedestrian intervals. Much of this effort has come from one member of the Los Angeles City Council: Jose Huizar.
Huizar explains that the headstart signals reduce confusion between pedestrians and drivers by giving those who are not protected inside a vehicle a chance to make the first move clearly and unambiguously before drivers have a chance to proceed.
“What happens now is when you have the pedestrian and the vehicle, the green light goes on for both of them at the same time, and there’s this moment, oftentimes, of negotiation between eye stares between the person in the vehicle and the pedestrian,” said Huizar. “Hey, do you see me? Do you not? Should I go? Should I not?”
Trial Began in 2014
Huizar and the rest of the authorities involved in city traffic understand precisely how effective these new traffic signals are because they have been on a trial run at two downtown intersections in Los Angeles since 2014: Broadway and 3rd Street and Broadway and 4th Street.
According to Huizar, the city has seen fewer collisions and fewer accidents as a whole at the two intersections where the headstart signals were installed. At the trial location, the two-block area has effectively been converted into a plaza were pedestrian safety is not only encouraged but also mandated by nothing more than a simple four-second delay.
New Signals Extended
In order to get the city to install the new traffic signals, Huizar gathered the evidence and waited for the Metro and Department of Transportation to come to him. At first, Metro arrived for a meeting about temporarily shutting down a few streets around 2nd and Broadway as the city builds an underground subway system as a regional connector.
It was then when Huizar sprung with an offer to install mitigation measures to help with the additional traffic the street closings will cause. Huizar then presented Metro with data concerning the headstart signals and encouraged the office to look at the crosswalks. With the endorsement of Metro, the Department of Transportation was a snap, and 15 intersections were identified where the new devices could be placed.
The total cost of the project is approximately $150,000, or about $10,000 per safety signal, which Huizar claims are not only targeted at drivers. He says that they also encourage pedestrians to remain alert. In addition, the signals have become integrated into a larger move to shift the city from a car-centric environment to one that is friendly to public transportation, alternative transportation and pedestrians.
Pedestrian Accidents Still Occur in Los Angeles
Although the new signals in Los Angeles are a step in the right direction, pedestrian accidents will never be eliminated altogether. If you are injured in a traffic accident as a pedestrian, do not hesitate to contact a reliable pedestrian accident attorney in Los Angeles to help you receive compensation for your damages.