Opinion: Road Safety Data Should Include Close Calls

Even in the absence of lethal collisions, the experience of repeated near-misses can discourage pedestrians from walking and degrade public perception of road safety.

1 minute read

January 25, 2022, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Florida Pedestrians

Box Lab / Shutterstock

While cities rely on pedestrian deaths and crash data to understand how safe their infrastructure is, near-misses can be an important metric for road safety, writes Dian Nostikasari. But the difficulty of measuring these incidents means they're often left out of the conversation, while the trauma caused by close calls with vehicles makes it less likely that people will walk in the future and causes parents to refuse to let their children walk to school if there's a fear of speeding or inattentive drivers.

According to Nostikasari, "capturing these incidents may reveal patterns of safety issues and provide opportunities to address them before a crash happens." Some cities are exploring tools to help capture data on close calls, identify locations that need improved safety measures, and understand public perceptions of safety. These include self-reporting mechanisms, app-based crowdsourcing tools, and analytics using traffic camera data.

Nostikasari writes that "A multi-faceted approach to addressing safety issues requires understanding the multiple facets of safety experiences and recognizing that those experiences are as valid as reported crash data can lead to future investments that honor the authentic needs of communities." Addressing traffic safety must be an inclusive effort that considers the lived experiences and needs of diverse users.

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