Groundbreaking new study in New York City aims to reduce nationwide pedestrian fatalities and injuries

Analysis of New York City crossings with Google Street View eyes linkage between intersections' characteristics and frequency of traffic deaths and serious injuries

22 Jan, 2016, 09:01 ET from EHE International

NEW YORK, Jan. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study titled "Using Google Street View to Assess Environmental Contributions to Pedestrian-Injury Risk," which collected and examined data of 532 intersections across all five boroughs in New York City using Google Street View has pioneered a groundbreaking method for researching pedestrian-injury risk factors on a much larger scale and at far lower cost than on-site inspections.

The study was conducted by Andrew Rundle, who serves on the Medical Advisory Board of EHE International, a New York City-based consultancy in preventive medicine, and EHE scholarship recipient, Stephen Mooney, a doctoral student in epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

"This study and others that I hope will replicate and build upon have the potential to prompt public officials to continue to approve and fund infrastructure improvements to design better streets. Using this information, we can help save untold numbers of lives and greatly reduce the number of serious injuries," said Deborah McKeever, president of EHE International.

The study's unique methodology was aimed at ascertaining the feasibility of using information technology to make the process of analyzing intersections more efficient using less manpower, ultimately enabling vastly more intersections to be analyzed for safety hazards. "If you're going to visit each intersection in person to collect data, it's essentially difficult to study injury risk factors on a large scale in one city or across multiple cities within the budget of a typical research study.  This approach accelerates research on how to improve neighborhoods to keep pedestrians safe," said Mooney.

Using collision data from public databases and other statistics the researchers identified nine underlying characteristics between the causes of traffic deaths and injuries and where they are happening.

The study found that the count of pedestrian injuries at intersections was associated with the presence (or absence) of marked crosswalks, pedestrian signals, nearby visual advertising (billboards), and bus stops. Other metrics analyzed included curb cuts, sidewalks, road conditions, and "traffic calming devices," such as curb extensions and speed bumps.

Rundle added that a further benefit of intersection-safety hazards thus being identified and remediated would be that pedestrians would not only be safer, but also feel safer. "That perception of increased safety from traffic might in turn encourage more outdoor physical activity, with consequent physical and mental health benefits," he said.

Expenditures on pedestrian-safety infrastructure upgrades may prove to be a particularly cost-effective way to improve public health. That's no small consideration, given that an estimated 70,000 pedestrians were injured or killed by motor vehicles in the United States in 2013 alone. Independent of the Rundle-Mooney study, New York City has developed plans to improve pedestrian safety citywide. Under N.Y. Mayor Bill de Blasio's ambitious "Vision Zero" initiative for ending traffic deaths and injuries on the city's streets, the Big Apple has installed some 1,500 pedestrian signals and re-engineered dozens of roads and intersections.

Rundle and Mooney's findings are to be published in the American Journal of Public Health, the full report can be read online ahead of print at http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302978.

About EHE International
Since 1913, EHE International has been dedicated to helping organizations improve health care, reduce costs and manage risks. Its Centers of Excellence in Preventive Healthcare protocols are specifically designed for early detection of preventable disease and associated risk factors. The exam is supported by a full year of post-exam management and care coordination that includes personal health coaching, in-network physician referrals, patient engagement and resources to support population health management.  EHE International is the only preventive medicine program available nationally. Its clinically based educational and social-engagement platforms are the preferred choice among America's leading employers.  EHE provides each client with free, HIPAA-compliant access to the health outcomes data it collects. Through our independent research advisory board, EHE provides analytical benchmark data that helps employers gauge the overall health status and culture of their organizations. For more information, visit www.eheintl.com.

SOURCE EHE International



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