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UMTRI Studies Pedestrian Safety

November 21, 2019


UMTRI announces project to study pedestrian safety in the City of Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI    From 2014 through 2018, 786 pedestrians were killed and 9,620 were injured in traffic crashes in Michigan.  And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, 6,283 pedestrians died in traffic crashes on public roads across the U.S.  Researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) are conducting research in the city of Ann Arbor to determine how connected vehicle technology, specifically a vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) system might save lives. 

“We know that connected vehicle technology can dramatically reduce unimpaired crashes and we believe that the same system can reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths as well,” said Debby Bezzina, program manager, Ann Arbor Connected Environment.

UMTRI has deployed a V2P system at four mid-block crosswalks along Plymouth Road.  This system will communicate with the 1,000 vehicles already deployed in the Ann Arbor Connected Environment (AACE) that have been equipped with an aftermarket safety device (ASD).  These devices will communicate with the driver when a pedestrian is in an equipped crosswalk.  The driver will receive an alert if there is a chance of a collision with the pedestrian.

This research project will deploy two types of technology to detect pedestrians. Each system will be evaluated to see which one works best in a real-world environment and the results will be used on a national level to inform agencies and policy makers who may be considering pedestrian detection systems in their cities, states, or other jurisdictions.

“One of the systems is video-based and called GRIDSmart. This system has a camera and processor, and detects a pedestrian in the crosswalk. It sends that information to the road-side unit (RSU). The RSU broadcasts a message to the equipped vehicles in the vicinity about the presence of the pedestrian. The ASD will then alert or warn the driver,” explains Bezzina.

The second technology is phone-based. Pedestrians that frequent Plymouth Road will be recruited and will download an app on their phone. Whenever the pedestrian is in the vicinity of one of the crosswalks, the phone will connect to the RSU and send the pedestrian’s location. The RSU will use that information to generate a message to be broadcast as above.

UMTRI is expected to conclude their research in summer of 2020. 


For more information on UMTRI’s connected vehicle work:

Keeping pedestrians safe:

Pedestrians should:

Use sidewalks whenever available.

Obey traffic signals, signs and markings.

Cross only at marked crosswalks and only when traffic is all clear or completely stopped and drivers recognize your intention to cross.


If you must walk along the roadway, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

Always stop at the edge of a parked car, curb, or vehicle before walking out into traffic.

Look left-right-left before crossing a street and continue looking while crossing.

Make eye contact with drivers prior to crossing roadways.

Be visible: wear reflective clothing and lights at night and wear bright colors during the day.

Never allow children under age 10 to cross the streets alone. Young children do not have the skills to accurately judge traffic risks.

Drivers should:

Obey traffic signals, signs and markings.

Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.

Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.

Avoid distractions.

Obey the posted speed limit.

Stay alert and take extra caution at intersections, especially when making turns.

Make eye contact with pedestrians waiting to cross roadways.

Be extra cautious when backing up—pedestrians can move into your path.



Founded in 1965, UMTRI is a global leader in transportation research and a partner of choice for industry leaders, foundations, and government agencies. UMTRI is one of the largest research institutes at U-M in terms of research expenditures, at $20 million annually. The institute has conducted over 1,000 research projects and collected hundreds of terabytes of data. Our multidisciplinary research includes short and long-term projects in areas involving social and behavioral analyses, accident data collection, traffic safety analysis, and standards development and testing, as well as the deployment and evaluation of new safety and mobility technologies.


UMTRI’s faculty and staff include full-time researchers, technical and administrative personnel, teaching faculty affiliated with university academic departments, as well as graduate and undergraduate students. UMTRI research scientists collaborate with many academic, government and industry partners to accomplish interdisciplinary research, generating new knowledge and providing students with experiential learning opportunities.


UMTRI is globally recognized for its approach to research, as well as the implementation of large-scale projects in transportation and safety. Working with its partners including Mcity, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the city of Ann Arbor, UMTRI currently maintains the world’s largest connected vehicle and infrastructure deployment, the Ann Arbor Connected Environment (AACE).