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Introduction Take a close look at any section of the road and you are likely to notice things that you may walk or drive by every day. The sign blocked by an overgrown tree…the section of sidewalk that always seems to be a puddle…the drivers that pull into the crosswalk before they make a right hand turn. These may seem like little things, but they might also pose safety problems. The challenge to spotting these problems is to train your eyes to look at things differently, to not only look at what is “on the ground,” but also the way people behave in these areas. This isn’t rocket science or even engineering. This is about tuning your own senses to see things you may not have seen before, and then using your own judgment to see ways to make things better. This guide is intended to help you develop those skills, as well as your ability to spot potential safety problems on roadways, intersections, and other transportation services. It was developed as part of the Teen Roadway Safety Advocates Program (TeenRSA), and will walk you through the steps you need to take to conduct your own “Teen Roadway Safety Assessment” under that program. This “Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment” should be seen as a companion to the “TeenRSA Program Guide” which explains the entire program. In this Handbook, you will find a “prompt list” of questions that should help your student-led team look for and at things that may impact safety. This should not be viewed as a “checklist” or even a complete list of questions that the team will want to discuss, but it should get you started. This is your workbook to keep, so please use it to keep your notes, ideas, and questions. Finally, this entire program is about making roads safer. Whenever you are working near a roadway you need to follow some important rules to assure that you do not put yourself or others in harm’s way. These are also spelled-out in this Handbook. Thank you again for your support for improving roadway safety. We hope that you have an interesting, informative and productive Teen Roadway Safety Assessment! The content of this Guide is copyrighted by the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS); please contact them if you wish to use it in other material. The TeenRSA name and logo are also trademarked by NOYS. 2

Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment


Date:____________ Time:______________

High School Name:______________________________________________________________________ Team Members:







______________________________ _______________________________ School Advisor:_________________________________________ Transportation Advisor:__________________________


Others Participating in the Assessment:_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ Emergency Numbers: 911 Others:_________________________

School Office:___________________

Assessment Location City, State:_______________________________________________________________________ Street Names:____________________________________________________________________ Describe the area:_________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ Briefly state why this location was selected: ____________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment


Check List ‌.before you leave to do the assessment.


Safety vest

Closed toe shoes


Parental Permission Form (turned in)


Aerial map of the area (e.g., Google Map or Street Map)


Stop watch or digital timer




Water bottles

Weather Related Items



Umbrella (rain)

Coat, Hat, Gloves (cold)

Boots (snow)


Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment

Safety First!

When you are conducting your Teen Roadway Safety Assessment, your first priority must always be safety. Remember, whenever you are near traffic, you are only a few feet away from danger. Even though you will be wearing a safety vest, that will not protect you from a speeding car or truck. Also, since there will be a group of you wearing vests, you could very well be a distraction to drivers, and they may not be giving their full attention to the road. • Safety Vests Before you even start, put on your safety vest and wear it the entire time you are doing the assessment, even if you are just walking along the sidewalk.   • Stay Alert Always keep your eyes open. Watch where you are walking, and do not step into the street except where there are crosswalks or where crossing is appropriate. If you can, try to make eye contact with drivers before you step in front of a stopped vehicle. Also, watch out for each other and don’t distract others on your team when you are near traffic. • Shoes Only closed‐toe shoes should be worn during the assessment. Sandals, clogs, and flip-flops are unacceptable. There is often broken glass near the road, and you need to have some protection from that and other hazards.   • Your Own Heath If it is a going to be hot, carry water bottles and use sunscreen. If it is wet or cold, make sure you have appropriate clothes (but always keep your safety vest on the outside). Keep a snack with you if you are going to be out for awhile.


Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment




Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment

Review Areas This is an abbreviated checklist of things you should look at during your assessment. More details about each of these points is included in each of the sections following this page.

Sidewalks • • • • •

Condition of the sidewalks…breaks, overgrown vegetation, puddling after rain or storms Continuity…connection between streets, in front of businesses Accessibility for wheelchairs or people who are sight impaired Appropriate width and steepness Safety and security

Driveways • Driver Behavior…distractions, awareness of pedestrians • Pedestrian Behavior...waiting, paying attention • Visibility...driver and pedestrian line of sight blocked or poor

Unsignalized Intersections • • • •

General safety Pedestrian behavior Visibility Crosswalks

• • • • •

Intersection design Intersection signal timing Driver behavior Pedestrian behavior Visibility

Signalized Intersections

Transit • Transit stops • Driver behavior • Transit rider/Pedestrian behavior

Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment




Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment

Sidewalks When we think about roads, we usually think about cars, trucks and buses. But some of the most important users of the “roadway” are pedestrians…people who walk, jog, bike or skateboard either in or along the road. Many students are pedestrians for either all or part of their trip back and forth to school, and their safety really depends on how well the “roadway” is designed and maintained to meet their needs. In this section, you will be looking at key elements of the “roadway” where pedestrians are impacted; sidewalks, driveways, intersections. Condition • • • •  

Are the sidewalks easy to walk on? Are they paved and in good condition? Are there cracks and breaks that someone could trip on? Is there ponded water in the sidewalk (or ice!) Do parked cars, branches or other objects block parts of the sidewalk?

Continuity • Are there sidewalks along all the roads? • Is the sidewalk continuous, or are there gaps or missing sidewalks? • Do you have to walk in the street or through yards where there are no sidewalks? Size and Steepness • How wide are the sidewalks? Minimum of five feet? • Do you have room to walk side-by-side with someone? • Is it wide enough for two people in wheelchairs to pass each other? • Is the sidewalk too steep to walk on?   Safety and Security • When you walk along the sidewalk, do you feel safe from vehicles in the road? Are they too close? Too noisy? • Is there a buffer between the sidewalk and the curb (such as a grass area)? Is there a shoulder in the road? • Do you feel safe in the areas the sidewalks go through? From other people? From stray animals?  

Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment




Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment

Driveways Driveways provide vehicles with access to homes, businesses, schools and other properties along a road. Since they cut across sidewalks, they also pose a potential danger to pedestrians, particularly in commercial areas where lots of people are pulling in and out of businesses. Driver Behavior • Do drivers pull across the sidewalk without looking? (Hint: usually drivers are looking to their left when they are pulling out of a driveway into traffic, so if you are approaching a car from the drivers’ right, make sure they see you before you step in front of them). • Are drivers yielding to pedestrians on the sidewalk across the driveway? Are there STOP Bars for vehicles leaving the driveway? Are drivers stopping at or behind them? • Are there places where drivers have to back into the sidewalk (often home driveways)? Do they have good visibility to see pedestrians? • Are drivers entering or leaving driveways too fast?   Pedestrian Behavior • Do pedestrians cross the driveway without looking at vehicles entering or leaving the driveway? • Are pedestrians yielding to vehicles on the driveway?   Visibility • • • •

Are drivers able to see the pedestrians on the sidewalk? Can pedestrians see the vehicles turning into and from the driveway? Do parked vehicles, vegetation, and other objects block the drivers’/pedestrians’ view of each other? Are there signs and/or markings to let drivers know there is a possibility of pedestrians on the sidewalk crossing the driveway? Are they visible to drivers?

Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment




Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment

Unsignalized Intersections Every time a pedestrian crosses a road, there is a safety concern. This is why both pedestrians and drivers need to be particularly cautious and alert in these areas, and why you need to focus on them during the assessment. Unsignalized intersections are where two (or more) roads cross each other, but there are no traffic signals (or traffic lights) controlling vehicles in the intersection. There may or may not be stop signs at unsignalized intersections, just as there may or may not be marked crosswalks for pedestrians. Let’s first look at what it is like walking across the intersection. General Safety • Do you feel safe crossing the intersection? Do drivers seem to be looking for pedestrians? Are they yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk? • Are there stop signs at the intersections? Are drivers coming to a complete stop and looking both ways? • Are drivers entering the intersection or turning the corner too fast? • Is there a lot of traffic during the time when students would use these crossings?   Pedestrian Behavior • Are pedestrians crossing within the crosswalk area? If not, where are they crossing? Mid-block? Why? • Do pedestrians step into the crosswalk/street without first looking? • Are pedestrians waiting for vehicles to pass before crossing?   Visibility • Are drivers able to see the crosswalk and signs? • Can pedestrians see the approaching vehicles and those making turns? Are drivers able to see pedestrians? • Do parked vehicles, vegetation, and other objects block the drivers/pedestrians’ view of each other? • Are there pedestrian crossing signs on the approaches to the intersection?     Crosswalk • Are there ramps to accommodate pedestrians with disabilities? Are they in places where they could easily be used by someone in a wheelchair or someone who is sight impaired? • Are the crosswalks wide enough? • Is the street too wide? Is there enough time to cross the street without running?    

Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment




Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment

Signalized Intersections Traffic signals are usually used where there are higher volumes of traffic, and where there is the potential for “conflicts”….read “crashes!” Signalized intersections may be used for just the crossing of two 2–lane roads, or in extreme cases, have as many as five or six lanes in each direction. As intersections become more complicated, there may be separate lanes and separate signals for left or right turn movement. Signalized intersections often have pedestrian signals that tell people when it is safe to cross the road; some even have a count-down clock telling you how many more seconds you have to get out of the road. Signalized intersections do a lot to manage traffic safely, but they can also give drivers and pedestrians a false sense of safety. As an example, if the crosswalk signal turns green, someone may step into the road before checking to see if a driver is running a last minute red-light or turning into their pathway. All the questions that you were asked about for unsignalized intersections, can also apply for signalized crossings, but there are some other things that you should also check.   Intersection Design Take a few minutes and try to understand everything that is going on at the intersection. It helps to draw a picture of the intersection, noting how many lanes there are in each direction and where there are separate lanes for left and right turns.   Intersection Signal Timing The lights at a signalized intersection are “controlled” by a type of computer that makes sure everything moves well. Each time the lights change, that is called a “phase.” In most signalized intersections these phases follow the same pattern or “cycle” over and over again. See if you can determine what the phases are of this intersection, and what order they are occurring in. (Extra activity: Take a watch that times seconds, and see if you can record how much time is allowed in each phase. See if the timing changes from cycle to cycle and why that might be. Pay particular attention to the timing of the crosswalk signals and if all the cars in the turning lanes make it through the light in a signal cycle). • Are there crosswalks marked on all four sides of the intersections? Do they all have pedestrian signals? • Do pedestrians need to press a button to alert the signal that they want to cross the road? Are those buttons placed where they are easy to see and reach? Is it clear what buttons affect what signals? • Is enough time allowed for pedestrians to cross the intersections? When does a warning signal come on for the pedestrians? • Are there “islands” in the middle of the roads where pedestrians can stop and stand if they cannot make it all the way across? • Does the signal timing allow pedestrians to cross at the same time they let cars make turns in to the cross walks. • Are the stop bars visible so that drivers know where to stop and not to encroach into the intersection?   Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment




Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment

Driver Behavior • Are drivers yielding to pedestrians in the (marked and unmarked) crosswalk? • Are right and left turning drivers yielding to pedestrians? (Big issue!) • Are drivers obeying the traffic signals? Are they running the red light or speeding through the yellow? Pedestrian Behavior • • • •  

Are pedestrians crossing in the crosswalks? Do pedestrians cross the street without looking? Are pedestrians crossing the road even when their signal says not to cross? Are pedestrians waiting for vehicles to pass?

Visibility • How big is the intersection? Can drivers easily see pedestrians, particularly those that are making left turns across the crosswalk? • Can pedestrians see the approaching vehicles going through or making turns? Note: There are many different designs and approaches to building traffic signals. Some are very sophisticated and change their timing automatically based in the amount of traffic on the road. Others include audible signals or even a voice telling pedestrians when it is safe or unsafe to cross. The main question to ask yourself as you look at these is do drivers and pedestrians know what is expected of them, and can they move in those intersections safely.

Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment




Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment

Transit Many students use the bus or mass transit to get to and from school. Transit is an important form of roadway transportation, but it may or may not be fully “integrated” into the roadway design or looked at in terms of safety. As an example, a regular city bus stop may be located across the street from a school, but there may be no crosswalk provided at that location. In addition, there is simply the importance of making sure students have a safe place to wait for transit. If transit is an important part of the transportation at your school, these are some questions you may want to consider: Transit Stops • • • •

Is there a dry, shaded, and safe place to wait? Do you feel safe waiting, getting on and off the transit vehicle Is the waiting area easy to get to? Is there enough room provided to accommodate the people waiting? Do transit stop locations encourage transit riders/pedestrians to cross the street at (unmarked/marked) crosswalks? • Are there sidewalks to and from the transit stop and major destinations? Driver Behavior • Are drivers yielding to transit vehicles? • Are there pull-outs provided for the transit vehicles? If not, are cars passing them when they stop? • Are drivers yielding to pedestrians?   Transit Rider/Pedestrian Behavior • Do people who are getting off the bus, cross the street at the transit stop? Do they cross in front of the bus? Are they crossing without looking? • Are pedestrians crossing within the (marked/unmarked) crosswalk? Are pedestrians crossing midblock? If yes, why?

Handbook for Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment


Handbook to Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment  
Handbook to Conducting a Teen Roadway Safety Assessment  

A National Program Focused on Empowering Youth to Become Teen Roadway Safety Advocates