Crosswalk Visibility Enhancements

U.S. Department of Transportation logoU.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

Poor lighting conditions, obstructions such as parked cars, and horizontal or vertical roadway curvature can reduce visibility at crosswalks, contributing to safety issues. For multilane roadway crossings where vehicle volumes are in excess of 10,000 Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT), a marked crosswalk alone is typically not sufficient. Under such conditions, more substantial crossing improvements could prevent an increase in pedestrian crash potential.

Three main crosswalk visibility enhancements help make crosswalks and the pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair and other mobility device users, and transit users using them more visible to drivers. These include high-visibility crosswalks, lighting, and signing and pavement markings. These enhancements can also assist users in deciding where to cross. Agencies can implement these features as standalone or combination enhancements to indicate the preferred location for users to cross.

"A high visibility crosswalk crossing a two-lane road. The two-lane road extends from the lower left to the upper right corner of the illustration. To the right of the crosswalk, on street parking is present on both sides of the roadway. On the right side of each lane approaching the crosswalk, a pedestrian crossing warning sign with directional arrow plaque is present. R1-6a Stop Here For Pedestrians signs are also present in the center of the roadway. Within the illustration, two inset images show close up photographs of the W11-2 pedestrian crossing warning sign with W16-7P directional arrow plaque and the R1-6a Stop Here For Pedestrians sign, respectively."

Source: FHWA

High-visibility crosswalks

High-visibility crosswalks use patterns (i.e., bar pairs, continental, ladder) that are visible to both the driver and pedestrian from farther away compared to traditional transverse line crosswalks. They should be considered at all midblock pedestrian crossings and uncontrolled intersections. Agencies should use materials such as inlay or thermoplastic tape, instead of paint or brick, for highly reflective crosswalk markings.

Improved Lighting

The goal of crosswalk lighting should be to illuminate with positive contrast to make it easier for a driver to visually identify the pedestrian. This involves carefully placing the luminaires in forward locations to avoid a silhouette effect of the pedestrian.

Enhanced Signing and Pavement Markings

On multilane roadways, agencies can use ”YIELD Here to Pedestrians“ or ”STOP Here for Pedestrians“ signs 20 to 50 feet in advance of a marked crosswalk to indicate where a driver should stop or yield to pedestrians, depending on State law. To supplement the signing, agencies can also install a STOP or YIELD bar (commonly referred to as ”shark’s teeth”) pavement markings.

In-street signing, such as ”STOP Here for Pedestrians“ or ”YIELD Here to Pedestrians“ may be appropriate on roads with two- or three-lane roads where speed limits are 30 miles per hour or less.



1. Chen, L., C. Chen, and R. Ewing. The Relative Effectiveness of Pedestrian Safety Countermeasures at Urban Intersections - Lessons from a New York City Experience. (2012).

2. Elvik, R. and Vaa, T. Handbook of Road Safety Measures. Oxford, United Kingdom, Elsevier, (2004).

3. Zeeger et al. Development of Crash Modification Factors for Uncontrolled Pedestrian Crossing Treatments, FHWA, (2017).

See the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices for more detail on crosswalk markings (Section 3B.18) and in-street signing (Sections 2B.11 and 2B.12).