Interestingly enough the Arizona Department of Transportation feels after much research that crosswalks which are marked may actually be more hazardous than unmarked crosswalks. They base their position off of a large traffic study performed by the city of San Diego, who has consistently been ranked as the safest city for pedestrians in the nation. The hard thing is there is no clear cut way to answer the question, "which type of crosswalk is safest?"
Each type of crosswalk has its advantages, and understanding the pros and cons will help the state to make the best calculated decision concerning the matter.
What are the Tradeoffs?
Some of the advantages of having a marked crosswalk are as follow: They may help pedestrians be seen by traffic, may act as a warning device and reminder to other drivers that pedestrians are to be expected, may help pedestrians orient themselves and navigate complex intersections, may show the pedestrian the shortest route of travel, and may help minimize the exposure to vehicular traffic.
In contrast some of the disadvantages are that marked crosswalks: May lead to a false sense of security and therefore make more hazardous positions seem safer than they are, may cause an increase in rear-end collisions due to not waiting for gaps in traffic, may cause an increase in fatal accidents, pedestrians may feel that drivers will stop in all situations, and may lead to a disrespect for pedestrian traffic regulations.
Should Marked Crosswalks be Installed?
Poorly located marked crosswalks may not be justified in terms of their efficacy. The installation and maintenance of a marked crosswalk in the wrong area can increase taxpayer expenses. Since they may not improve public safety it certainly does not seem justifiable. Such crosswalks can actually increase the hazard to pedestrians and drivers. It must be understood however that crosswalks will continue to be a useful traffic control device but this is in respect to the proper placement of crosswalks that are marked.
The general public needs to understand what marked crosswalks can and cannot do in order for us all to benefit from them. Complacency has a tendency to sneak up on both driver and pedestrian alike, as both become accustomed to crosswalks that are marked. Public officials should not install marked crosswalks, unless the anticipated benefits far outweigh the risks that are associated with them.