Many people would argue that drivers that merge at the last opportunity before the lane closure are committing a "Jerk Merge;" however, writer Tom Vanderbilt would disagree. Vanderbilt's book entitled: Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What it Says About Us), argues that if drivers did not leave the soon-to-be-closed-lane until the very point that it actually closed then there would be an orderly and alternating merge that would be as much as 15% faster. Furthermore, he argues that the queue of vehicles stretching back from the closed-lane-construction-site would be smaller.
A recent study by University of Calgary economists Arvind Magesan and Sacha Kapoor investigated the effects of the city of Toronto installing crosswalk-count-down timer lights at 1,800 intersections. The timers did lower the number of accidents involving pedestrians; however, the study indicates that the timers actually increased collisions between cars. The increase in car accidents was due to the fact that the timers are visible to both pedestrians and automobiles approaching the intersections and there were more rear-end accidents caused by the approaching motorist speeding up to get through the intersections. Intersections that had been previously considered "safe intersections" became more dangerous for motorists. The study found that at busy congested intersections the traffic is moving too slowly for motorist to accelerate through the intersection based on the count-down-timer; however, at less busy intersections when there is only one or two cars ahead of the motorist viewing the count-down clock, that trailing motorist would speed up during the last few seconds making rear-end collisions more prevalent.
Persistent and heated is the debate about Ann Arbor's Crosswalk Law. Most recently, after the city council voted 6-4 to repeal the ordinance that was put into place in 2011, Mayor Heiftje used his veto power to null the vote. In its current state, the Ann Arbor City, requires vehicles to stop at a crosswalk if someone is "in the crosswalk" or "waiting at the curb." The 6-4 vote would have repealed the second part of this law, reverting it back to requiring vehicles only to stop if someone is in the crosswalk. The city council can override Mayor Heiftje's veto with 8 votes but it is unlikely that this will happen; four city council members strongly agree with Mayor Heiftje.
The recent incident in Ann Arbor, where a University of Michigan student wasstruck by a car while walking in a crosswalk on Plymouth road, has sparked new conversation about pedestrian safety. How much caution do flashing lights provide? Is distracted driving more often than not the cause of fatal accidents?The disastrous accident in which Sharita Williams was killed is a clear reminder of two notable things: that pedestrians must always use caution when crossing streets and that distracted driving should be eliminated at all costs. In the city of Ann Arbor, the crosswalk laws were re-worded two years ago. A press release from the City of Ann Arbor explains that the prior ordinance required "a vehicle to stop for a pedestrian 'approaching or within' a marked crosswalk...." while the new ordinance requires "a vehicle to stop for a pedestrian standing 'at the curb' as well as 'within the crosswalk." In addition, as an article from annarbor.com titled "Number of pedestrian-vehicle crashes up in Ann Arbor since adoption of crosswalk ordinance" states, the city's ordinance requires vehicles to stop for pedestrians standing at the curb, while the state's MichiganTraffic Code requires cars yield to pedestrians.
Ann Arbor City officials are reconsidering the new local law that requires motorist to stop for all pedestrians that are either "in" or "approaching" a crosswalk. Many residents have complained that the new law causes confusion amongst motorists and may cause more rear-end collisions that endanger the safety of pedestrians that are in front of a law-abiding stopped car. Even Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones has expressed his concerns that the new law may cause more rear-end collisions.
In late 2010, the Ann Arbor City Council passed an ordinance that grantsAnn Arbor pedestrians greater safety when entering crosswalks. The city ordinance requires vehicles to come to a complete stop at crosswalks with no traffic control signals. In the past, vehicles were only required to yield to pedestrians that were in a crosswalk.