Animated Crash Scenarios

Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities in roadway crashes, while fortunately rare, are on the rise and account for a growing share of total traffic deaths. In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians and 840 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts). These two modes accounted for 18 percent of the 37,461 total U.S. fatalities that year. While these crashes may be caused by many factors, there are some patterns in how they occur, and there is a role for everyone in preventing them. By understanding how and why pedestrian and bicycle crashes happen, it is easier to understand the behaviors and solutions needed to prevent them.

This video series portrays some of the most common situations that lead to a crash involving a driver and a pedestrian or bicyclist. Each video shows a crash, portraying it from a combination of aerial, driver, pedestrian and/or bicyclist perspectives. The videos then highlight preventive actions road users can take to avoid this type of crash and the traffic scene is re-portrayed to show the safer behaviors. Below the animations, see the role of roadway design, ideas on how different groups might use the videos to reach specific audiences, and resources for more information about roadway design.

Multiple Threat Crash
When a driver in one lane yields to a pedestrian crossing the street, but the driver in the next lane does not.

Right Hook Bicycle Crash
When a driver and bicyclist are traveling in the same direction and the driver turns right, crashing into the bicyclist.

Left Turn into Pedestrian Crossing Crash
When a left turning vehicle hits a pedestrian who is crossing the street.

Driver Overtaking a Bicyclist Crash
When a driver passes a bicyclist too closely, either striking the bicyclist or causing the bicyclist to lose control or balance.

 

The role of the roadway design, operations and enforcement

The animations call attention primarily to the behaviors of road users that contribute to a crash. Often, these behaviors are strongly influenced by the way the roadway is designed or the presence of safe crossing facilities. Changes in roadway design and operations or increased enforcement are also often necessary to sufficiently address factors that contribute to a crash. The Resource section at the bottom of this page serves as a launching point for more information about these actions.

Using video animations

Driver education instructors

Use the animations in a classroom environment to engage student drivers. Consider pausing the videos to engage students in dialogue, such as:

  • How can students (the driver) help prevent crashes with pedestrians and bicyclists in these cases?
  • What actions may be missing from each of the road users (i.e. failure to look both ways, etc)?
  • What are the relevant state or local laws?
  • How do the situations relate to local roads?

Law enforcement

Use the animations as a part of:

  • Officer training
    Law enforcement officers are better able to support and enforce pedestrian and bicycle safety laws when they understand common crash types and the perspectives of safety risks to pedestrians and bicyclists.
    • Use in officer training schools.
    • Use in roll-call training.
    • Introduce in relation to other traffic safety issues (speed, distraction, impairment) which either add to the cause of the crash or the degree of injury from a crash.
    • Use to identify high risk areas to understand infrastructure changes needed.
  • Public/community education and outreach. Officers are often asked to give presentations to various groups such as community forums, in direct response to recent traffic incidents, etc.
    • Make the case for and generate interest with the community towards crash prevention starting with knowledge and personal commitment towards a safer community.
    • Gain community buy-in for enforcement efforts. While dangers are discussed, emphasize prevention and things each community member can do as a driver, a pedestrian and a bicyclist to prevent crashes. Use visuals of common causes of crash types with pedestrians and bicyclists and reinforce the desired enforcement strategy.
    • Use these tools where people are at based on the dynamics of the community, whether it is PTA/PTO meetings, service organization meetings, places of worship, community events, etc.
    • Respond to fatal or serious crashes with specific approaches moving forward of what a community or school PTA/PTO can do to prevent another crash.
    • Talk with older youth as part of Heart Month (February), Physical Fitness Month (May), (increase activity through walking and bicycling – apply defensive walking/bicycling skills (the same you will need for driving)
    • Use other topics to tie-in how they affect all road users including pedestrians and bicyclists, i.e. speed, distraction and/or impairment issues.  Generate conversation about where these scenarios are likely to occur in the community that may need further attention.

City agencies, state coalitions, advocacy groups, planners, engineers, and consultants leading public forums and outreach with community members

Use the animations to:

  • Correlate behavior or crash type to a local roadway and the need for engineering improvements to encourage safer use.
  • Enhance understanding of a problem when used in combination with community or neighborhood assessments and crash data.
  • Train employees or college or graduate students in the field of engineering, planning, and injury prevention.

Youth groups and peer teaching

The animations can:

  • Generate discussions among youth groups (after school, faith-based, service-basd groups, etc.).
  • Be used for youth to teach others (peers, parents, or community members) to help prevent crashes first by understanding why and how they happen and responsible behaviors needed to prevent crashes.

General public

The public can use these animation videos to:

  • Identify places where these situations occur and then consider their own behavior and role in preventing crashes.


Resources

PEDBIKESAFE

Every Day Counts

State laws on yielding/stopping for pedestrians

State laws on passing bicyclists

Video Development

Until recently, the dynamics of common pedestrian and bicycle crashes were represented by simple 2-dimensional illustrations. With careful use of limited resources, these videos were produced using VISSIM, a traffic modeling software used by traffic engineers. Because the primary purpose of VISSIM is to assist with traffic modeling, the animations faced a few artistic limitations. However, the videos are a significant advancement from the 2-dimensional visuals and there is an opportunity to improve future iterations of these and similar videos.