Walking across the street at a busy intersection can be risky, even when you have the walk signal. Drivers turning left do not always look before moving, or they can lose patience and try to turn before it is safe. Whatever causes a motorist to fail to yield, the pedestrians caught in the vehicle’s crosshairs are put in danger of major injury or death.
If drivers will not take pedestrian safety seriously for its own sake, maybe making it harder for them to turn into walkers’ paths will help reduce pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles. A suggestion by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) would create barriers in the middle of roads that would force drivers to slow down and be more careful when making a left turn.
Centerline hardening could be the solution
The barriers would be made up of rubber curbing and bollards, which are thin, brightly colored traffic poles. IIHS calls erecting these barriers “centerline hardening.” It would make it impossible for drivers to cut across the nearer lanes to get to the lane they are aiming for. It would also require drivers to slow down and pay more attention to what they are doing to avoid hitting the barrier — and thus be less likely to run into pedestrians.
The IIHS has tested out centerline hardening in Washington, D.C., with encouraging results. An IIHS researcher found that centerline hardening reduced the number of attempted left turns at 15 mph or faster by more than one third. It also greatly reduced the number of “conflicts” or near-misses.
Adding centerline hardening to major intersections in L.A. would likely improve safety for pedestrians. But we do not mean to suggest that drivers are not responsible for their own behavior. If a motorist has struck you while you were crossing the street, they could be liable for your injuries. Talk to a personal injury attorney with experience representing pedestrian accident victims to learn more.