Imagine redefining the concept of ‘stop, look and wait’ and finding it’s a life-saving mantra on our roads.

The International Drivers Association team has conducted a deep dive into a Federal Highway Administration study in the US that investigates this point.

It finds that a simple ‘pause’ at intersections to a staggering 47% drop in pedestrian accidents.

Pause for thought

It seems that “Slowing down saves lives” is no longer an idle lecture for reckless drivers. A groundbreaking study by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) ties a humble intersection delay to a huge 47% drop in pedestrian conflicts.

Such reductions in pedestrian mishaps came from extending the beginning of the green signal phase for pedestrians, while keeping vehicles at a red light standstill.

This countermeasure, known as the Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI), allows pedestrians to firmly establish their presence in intersections before any vehicle movement.

Imagine you’re at a controlled junction. As a pedestrian, you get to cross a few seconds earlier while vehicles still see the red light. This extra time boosts your visibility, increases your safety and also improves the flow of foot traffic. It’s a simple idea that has been proved to make a huge difference.

In effect, it is about holding drivers at red lights for lightly longer than distinctly necessary for the road traffic to avoid conflict, but increases drivers’ awareness of other vulnerable road users.

 Powerful data 

According to the FHWA’s study, when the LPI is implemented, pedestrian and vehicle crashes at crossings plummeted by almost half. This is responsible for thousands of lives saved and countless injuries avoided.

Referring to this strategy, Dominic Wyatt, International Drivers Association motoring expert, said, “Even a simple measure like giving pedestrians an additional few seconds to start crossing before vehicles can go helps dramatically reduce accidents. It’s an easy change that can have massive impact.”

Tips for drivers and Pedestrians

So how do we ensure these measures run smoothly?

For Motorists

  1. Respect the Pause: Follow traffic signals, especially the LPI. Remember, red means stop.
  2. Patience Pays: Don’t rush to speed off the moment the light turns green. Take a moment, scan the crosswalk for any late-run walkers.
  3. Alertness is Key: Always stay alert, especially when turning at intersections, as pedestrians may be crossing.

For Pedestrians

  1. Utilise the Head Start: Capitalise on LPI timing.
  2. Observe and Cross: Even if the walk sign is illuminated, ensure all vehicles are at a stop before crossing.
  3. Stay Visible: Try to make eye contact with stopped drivers, establishing your presence.


Joint responsibility

Everyone has their part to play in making roads safer. Junctions are the biggest area of conflict, so taking a little more time, pause for thought can make a very positive difference to casualty rates. As Wyatt says:“A moment’s patience can prevent a major accident”.

We might all wish for a faster, more streamlined daily commute and shorter journey times. However, as this study shows, slowing things down can be exactly what speeds us along to a safer, more secure journey.

It gives new momentum to an old saying: Stop, look and wait before you go.

This cautious behaviour isn’t just good manners – it’s a matter of life and death on the road.

And while this is a study from the US, the basic principles remain global.

Embrace the pause.