European Pedestrian Crossings Survey

Pedestrians join zebra crossings as endangered species on UK roads

31 January 2008

a pedestrian crossing in Spain Great Britain has the third worst rate of pedestrian fatalities on roads out of 10 European countries studied in the latest EuroTest report into pedestrian crossings, released by the AA today. Once population is taken into account, Great Britain kills about twice as many pedestrians as Sweden and the Netherlands.

Spain has the worst rate of pedestrian fatalities per one million population (15.7) followed by Italy (11.5) and the UK (11.0). The Netherlands has the lowest rate at 4.6 pedestrian deaths per one million population 1.

However, Britain's pedestrian crossings are among the safest in Europe, with fatalities on our crossings coming third best after the Netherlands and Germany2.

Per head of population, some countries kill around three times as many pedestrians on crossings as we do in Britain, although the study is unclear whether this derives from having better crossings or just less crossings.

The report also concludes that Spain, Great Britain and Germany should be concerned about pedestrian fatalities outside crossings. Around 90% of pedestrian fatalities occurred outside pedestrian crossings, with the UK having among the highest of the countries surveyed3. This could be explained by the UK having fewer crossings than neighbouring European countries.

a pedestrian crossing in Italy "Britain's pedestrian crossings are among the safest in Europe, but this study highlights a worrying conundrum. Would Britain's pedestrians be safer if we had more cheap, simple and possibly less safe crossings, to complement our light controlled super crossings? Or are our super crossings all that keeps our pedestrian death toll down?" asks Andrew Howard, the AA's head of road safety.

"Generally we have been glad to see £35,000 pelican crossings replace £5,000 to £10,000 zebra crossings. But would we have done better if we had chosen to have more zebras, or even some kind of simpler crossing?"

Howard adds: "Many Continental crossings lack the refinements of even a British zebra. But they do tell pedestrians 'here is a good place to cross', and they do tell drivers 'pedestrians cross here'.

"In Britain we have traffic lights, red men, green men, push buttons, anti-skid surfaces in some places, flashing globes and illuminated posts elsewhere – yet leave drivers and pedestrians confused as to whether a road narrowing is there to cut vehicle speeds or provide somewhere to cross. In some places there is no pedestrian provision at all.

a pedestrian crossing in France "Simpler zebra crossings face extinction in the UK, being replaced by more sophisticated crossings. Perhaps there is the need to quicken the evolution of a new species – a new road marking that says 'pedestrians cross here'.

The study, part of the Eurotest programme which includes the AA as a leading partner, included input from motoring organisations in the UK (AA), Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland.

Notes to editors

1 Pedestrian road fatalities 2005 (per million population) – Spain 15.7, Italy 11.5, Great Britain 11.0, Austria 10.9, Germany 10.9, Belgium 10.3, Switzerland 9.0, Finland 7.2, Norway 6.7, Netherlands 4.6.

2 Pedestrian fatalities on crossings 2005 (per million population) – Norway 3.7, Italy 3.4, Switzerland 3.0, Finland 2.1, Austria 2.1, Spain 1.3, Great Britain 1.2, Germany 0.8, Netherlands 0.6.

3 Percentage of pedestrian fatalities not on crossings 2005 – Germany 92.5%, Spain 91.5%, Great Britain 89.4%, Netherlands 86.7%, Austria 81.1%, Finland 71.1%, Italy 70.7%, Switzerland 67.2%, Norway 45.2%.

Download the full report as a pdf document

Campaigns in Spain

One of the Spanish Motoring Clubs, RACC in Catalonia, has been running an unusual pedestrian safety campaign in Barcelona and Madrid. Watch the video below (the titles are in Spanish but the message is very clear from the pictures)

AA public affairs



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