In an ironic twist, a new study has found that certain traffic safety devices actually increase the risk of traffic accidents.
According to the study, traffic accidents increased after installation of walk signals that were intended to protect pedestrians. Researchers believe the problem is that it is not just the pedestrians that can see the walk signals, but also the drivers that are approaching the intersection. Drivers speed up to beat the light as the walk signal counts down. Inevitably, drivers may react differently when deciding whether to stop or speed though the light. One driver may throw on his brakes just as the driver behind hits the gas to beat the light.
Traffic engineers are addressing the problem by installing walk signals that can be seen by pedestrians, but not drivers. Another proposed solution is to install walk signals that give audible cues to pedestrians, rather than the visible countdown that can be seen by both pedestrians and drivers.
Click here to read about the study.