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VOLUME 5, ISSUE 2

Safety Starts with You:

Increasing Awareness Between Bicyclists, Pedestrians and Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) Before a Crash Occurs

 

Bicyclists and pedestrians are frequently involved in CMV crashes. According to 2017 data from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, Texas ranked highest in the nation in the number of large trucks involved in fatal CMV crashes. Of the CMV fatalities recorded in the 2017 data, 10 percent were nonoccupants, including pedestrians, pedalcyclists, etc. These statistics highlight CMV crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians as a growing traffic safety concern.

 

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI's) Center for Transportation Safety was awarded a public education and awareness project aimed at educating everyone involved — truck drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians — on safety concerns and tips for when they next encounter each other on the road. The project’s objective is to identify important factors and topics around bicyclist- and pedestrian-involved CMV crashes, with the goal of developing and distributing educational materials to increase public awareness about safety concerns.

 

First, the research team analyzed crash data using NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the Texas Department of Transportation’s Crash Records Information System. The analysis yielded important insights for bicyclist- and pedestrian-involved CMV crashes, including:

 

•   Nationally, fatal bus crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians decreased between 2010 and 2018, while large-truck crashes increased during the same period. In Texas, bicyclist- and pedestrian-involved CMV crashes increased for both buses and large trucks.

•   Nationally and in Texas, large-truck crashes — as opposed to other types of CMVs — represent the largest percentage of bicyclist- and pedestrian-involved CMV crashes.

 

Large-truck crashes compose a majority of both bicyclist- and pedestrian-involved CMV crashes (pictured here).

The researchers reviewed relevant crash narratives from bicyclist- and pedestrian-involved CMV crashes in Texas. (Crash narratives are descriptions written by the responding law enforcement officers at the crash scene.) These narratives often provide key information that may not appear at all in the crash data. Using a keyword process to group crashes into categories and developing tools such as word clouds proved helpful in sifting through the information. The research team determined that educational materials should focus on areas like intersections, where knowing when to yield the right of way might be confusing, which could lead to crashes.

 

TTI Associate Transportation Researcher Neal Johnson found the narrative review to be an interesting exercise that offers insights beyond the structured crash data for understanding the unique circumstances surrounding bicyclist- and pedestrian-involved CMV crashes.

 

Next, center researchers will conduct focus groups with bicyclists, pedestrians and truck drivers to discuss safety concerns and evaluate what those groups know about bicyclists, pedestrians and CMVs on roadways. Based on the research findings, the team will develop educational materials, including:

 

•   Safety tip cards targeted to bicyclists, pedestrians and CMV drivers.

•   A short educational video — formatted for social media — on how to be safe as bicyclists, pedestrians and CMV drivers interacting on a roadway.

Center researchers will present the project’s findings to safety coalitions and provide educational materials to increase public awareness that should, in turn, improve safety and reduce CMV crashes involving these groups.

 

Assistant Research Scientist Amber Trueblood says, “This project is vital since many people do not realize that CMVs should be handled differently due to blind spots and distances required to stop. Many people do not know that it can take two football fields or longer for an 18-wheeler to stop depending on speed and other factors. Bicyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable.”

 

 

Exploratory text analysis, including word clouds (pictured here), helped identify words most commonly cited in crash narratives to explore potential patterns.

— Amber Trueblood

TTI Assistant Research Scientist

The research team determined that educational materials should focus on areas like intersections, where knowing when to yield the right of way might be confusing, which could lead to crashes.

TTI Associate Transportation Researcher Neal Johnson found the narrative review to be an interesting exercise that offers insights beyond the structured crash data for understanding the unique circumstances surrounding bicyclist- and pedestrian-involved CMV crashes.

For More Information

Amber Trueblood

 

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