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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Step Up for Pedestrians at Night

In 2018, 76 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. occurred in dark conditions.1 Studies have identified a strong relationship between darker conditions and more severe injury pedestrian crashes.2 Appropriate lighting should increase visibility of pedestrian crosswalks and reduce glare for motorists. Illumination may also encourage more pedestrians to use crosswalks.3 Generally, overhead lights should be placed in advance of crosswalks and intersections, on both approaches, illuminating pedestrians from the sides and not creating overhead shadows on people crossing the road.4

At intersections, overhead lighting is estimated to reduce all types of injury crashes by 27%. Outside of intersections, overhead lighting improvements are estimated to reduce all types of injury crashes by 23%.5 Countermeasures such as high-visibility crosswalks and activated Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons increase visibility of pedestrians.

For more information about these and other countermeasures to improve pedestrian crossing safety, visit the FHWA Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) program website: www,

1Pedestrians, 2018 Data. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

2Thomas, L., Sandt, L. S., Zegeer, C. V., Kumfer, W., Lang, K., Lan, B., … Schneider, R. J. (2018). Systemic pedestrian safety analysis (p. 111). Washington, D.C.: Transportation Research Board. Available:

3Nambisan, S. S., S. S. Pulugurtha, V. Vasudevan, M. R. Dangeti, V. Virupaksha. Effectiveness of Automatic Pedestrian Detection Device and Smart Lighting on Pedestrian Safety. In Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2140, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2009, pp. 27-34.

4Gibbons, R., C. Edwards, B. Williams, and C. Andersen. Informational Report on Lighting Design for Midblock Crosswalks. Publication FHWA-HRT-08-053, FHWA, U.S. Department of Transportation, 2008. Available:

5Harkey, D.L., R. Srinivasan, J. Baek, F. Council, K. Eccles, N. Lefler, F. Gross, B. Persaud, C. Lyon, E. Hauer, and J. Bonneson. NCHRP Report 617: Accident Modification Factors for Traffic Engineering and ITS Improvements. NCHRP, Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, 2008. Available: