Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


An advance pedestrian warning sign located prior to a crosswalk. Source: Toole Design Group





Regulatory signs, such as STOP, YIELD, or turn restriction signs such as NO TURN ON RED require compliant driver actions and can be enforced. Warning signs can provide helpful information, especially to motorists and pedestrians unfamiliar with an area.

Advance pedestrian warning signs should be used where pedestrian crossings may not be expected by motorists, especially if there are many motorists who are unfamiliar with the area. A new fluorescent yellow/green color is approved for pedestrian, bicycle, and school warning signs (Section 2A.11 of the MUTCD).1 This bright color attracts the attention of drivers because it is unique.

All signs should be periodically checked to make sure that they are in good condition, free from graffiti, retroreflective at night, and continue to serve the intended purpose. In unusual cases, signs may be used to prohibit pedestrian crossings at an undesirable location and re-route them to a safer crossing location, or warn pedestrians of unexpected driver maneuvers. It is preferable to create safe crossings where there are clear pedestrian destinations. If unexpected driving maneuvers occur at what is an otherwise legal pedestrian crossing, an evaluation should be done to find ways to remedy or prevent the unsafe motorist maneuvers.


Signs can provide important information that can improve road safety. By letting people know what to expect, there is a greater chance that they will react and behave appropriately. For example, giving motorists advance warning of an upcoming pedestrian crossing or that they are entering a speed zone will alert them to the potential of pedestrians crossing the street and modify their speed. Sign use and movement should be done judiciously, as overuse may breed noncompliance and disrespect. Too many signs may also create visual clutter where their conspicuity is diminished.


• Overuse of signs may breed noncompliance and disrespect. Too many signs can lead to visual clutter with the result that a driver may not amply heed directions or warnings.
• Traffic signs used on public property must comply with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
• Signs should be checked to assure adequate nighttime retroreflectivity.

Estimated Cost

Min. Low
Max. High
Cost Unit
# of Sources (Observations)
Stop/Yield Sign

Safety Effects

A summary of studies that have looked at the safety effects of different signs can be found here.

Case Studies

Arlington County, VA
Las Vegas, Nevada
Clemson, SC
Ithaca, New York
Portland, OR
Eureka, California
Seattle, Washington
Albemarle, Virginia
New York City, New York
San Francisco, California
Miami-Dade County, Florida
Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona