Around the world, a handful of innovative cities are stopping traffic—with paint. The eye-catching 3D-painted crosswalks are replacing conventional crosswalks, resulting in an optical illusion that makes motorists tap the brakes for pedestrians. From cars, the paint job looks like a roadblock; pedestrians, meanwhile, appear to be walking on air.
Should you find yourself in Ísafjörður, Iceland, New Delhi, India, or Taizhou, China, you can experience these novel crosswalks in action. But can 3D-painted crosswalks put a stop to accidents closer to home, specifically at the 10 most dangerous intersections in Worcester, Mass?
Artist’s mockup of a 3D-painted crosswalk at Park Ave. and Highland St., Worcester.
Can 3D-Painted Crosswalks Put a Stop to Worcester Pedestrian Accidents?
Not if the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has anything to say about it. In 2011, the FHWA ruled that “the use of crosswalk art is actually contrary to the goal of increased safety and most likely could be a contributing factor to a false sense of security for both motorists and pedestrians,” and went on to defend the superiority of the conventional white stripes. But when a pedestrian is killed every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes in a traffic accident, it begs the question of whether maintaining the status quo is truly the safer option.
What do the early-adopter cities have to say about their 3D-painted crosswalks—are they more effective than speed bumps? A driver in China who encountered one declared it
“so magical! It looks more like a roadblock watching from afar, and I could not help to slow down.”
That’s a ringing endorsement for the power of crosswalk paint to keep drivers’ eyes on the road.
Artist’s mockup of a 3D-painted crosswalk at 640 Cambridge St., Worcester.
Cause & Effect: Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is an enormous problem. Cell phone usage is implicated in a shocking 64% of all traffic accidents. The good news? Distractions are simple to eliminate. Putting away phones, food, and drinks until reaching the destination is a guaranteed way to reduce one’s accident risk. Couple that heightened awareness with Ísafjörður ‘s captivating 3D-painted crosswalks and you have a recipe for more attentive drivers and fewer dangerous or deadly accidents.
If the illusion of an obstruction gets drivers to tap the brakes, it’s a win. Pedestrian death rates rise sharply with increased vehicle speed, but slashing speed limits from 40 to 20 miles per hour makes pedestrians eight times more likely to survive a crash.
Artist’s mockup of a 3D-painted crosswalk at 68 Stafford St., Worcester.
After all, if a little bit of paint can make pedestrians safer, why aren’t city planners rushing to install 3D crosswalks at every intersection? Let’s imagine for a moment that Worcester joined the ranks of early adopters and revamped crosswalks at the city’s most dangerous intersections. How many lives might that save? There were 5,380 auto accidents in Worcester in 2015; they resulted in 1,693 injuries and 7 deaths. All other things being equal, getting drivers to reduce their speed at intersections could reduce that death count to zero.
And that’s worth as much paint as it takes.
Other Worcester Dangerous Intersections
630 Plantation St.
Belmont Street & Plantation Street
Cambridge Street & Southbridge Street
Main Street & Mill Street
Highland Street & Harvard Street
Chandler Street & Mill Street
Park Avenue & May Street
When Car Crashes Aren’t Avoided
Worcester attorney Peter Ventura focuses his practice on serious injury cases. As the victim of a vehicle accident, you may be entitled to damages such as medical expenses, loss of wages, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and a diminished quality of life. If you or a family member have been injured by in a car crash, Attorney Ventura can pursue justice on your behalf. Please call us for a consultation today.