Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


Police enforcement can increase driver awareness of the need to share the roadway and reduce pedestrian-related traffic crashes. Source: Flickr - Wayan Vota (2007)




Police Enforcement

Police enforcement is a primary component in preserving pedestrian right-of-way and maintaining a safe environment for all modes of travel. Well-publicized enforcement campaigns are often effective in deterring careless and reckless driving and encouraging drivers to share the roadway with pedestrians and bicyclists when combined with strategically installed traffic control devices and public education programs. Most importantly, by enforcing the traffic code, police forces implant a sense of right and wrong in the general public and lend credibility to traffic safety educational programs and traffic control devices.

Over the years, police departments around the country have consistently enforced traffic laws pertaining to driving under the influence, speeding, and running red lights. They have developed effective and socially accepted methods for measuring this behavior and apprehending offenders. However, enforcement of right-of-way laws has proven more difficult, as police forces have focused attention on more objective violations and/or not provided appropriate training to police officers. Good enforcement requires enforcing traditional traffic laws as well as ensuring equal protection for drivers as well as pedestrians and bicyclists.

There are a number of actions that municipalities can use to implement enforcement campaigns designed to protect pedestrians. These include increased police presence around school zones, residential neighborhoods, and other areas with high pedestrian activity; “pedestrian stings” involving police officers in civilian clothing; and high profile, hard hitting mass media campaigns to sign-post change and help set the public agenda. Some enforcement campaigns require special legislation to provide a legal basis for stricter crosswalk codes or right of way changes while other campaigns operate under existing ordinances.


Even though engineering countermeasures are implemented, the failure of motorists and pedestrians to adhere to traffic laws creates an unsafe environment. Police enforcement can increase driver awareness of the need to share the roadway and reduce pedestrian-related traffic crashes.


• Campaigns must be sensitive to the needs of different neighborhoods, age/ethnic groups, etc.
• To avoid PR problems, police officers need to be trained properly beforehand.
• Enforcement should be conducted with the help of staff support and awareness of the courts.
• Enforcement operations should be focused on drivers rather than pedestrians.
• Enforcement operations should begin with warnings and flyers before moving on to issuing citations for violations.

Estimated Cost

The cost can vary depending on the amount of training, number of officers involved, public relations work, duration of the program, and other factors.

Safety Effects

A summary of studies that have looked at the safety effects of police enforcement measures can be found here.

Case Studies

Cleveland Heights, Ohio