Law Enforcement

Organize Pedestrian Safety-Enforcement Operations

Pedestrian safety-enforcement operations are police-run public- education and enforcement efforts to improve driver compliance to pedestrian yield laws. During an operation, one police officer or community volunteer acts as a pedestrian while being monitored by another officer who then pulls over non-yielding drivers to give warnings or citations.

  • Seek funding sources such as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration grants, which are administered by a state highway- safety agency
  • Schedule operations in the daytime in clear weather
  • Select locations where pedestrian accidents have occurred and/or where pedestrians report difficulty getting across the street
  • Measure and calculate braking and sight-line distance for each operation in advance to ensure accurate citations
  • Notify the public in advance of the time, location, and purpose of the planned pedestrian safety-enforcement operation through press releases, news articles, and TV reports to avoid charges of entrapment and to promote awareness of pedestrians
  • Notify elected officials and invite them to witness the operation
  • Invite local departments of transportation or pedestrian-advocacy groups to provide educational and safety materials at the operation
  • Reach out to pedestrian advocates, police agencies, and local government
  • Alert approaching drivers of the operation to emphasize the educational aspect of event
  • Assign a minimum of five officers to the operation location:
    • One to two plainclothes officers or community volunteers (pedestrian decoys)
    • One spotter
    • Two or more uniformed officers in chase vehicles
  • Provide radios to all officers in the operation for better coordination
  • Clothe decoy pedestrians in highly visible clothing. Effectiveness does not depend on whether the officer is in uniform or plainclothes
  • Station another officer nearby to pull over and issue warnings or citations (possibly with training programs instead of fines) to any violators
  • Record the operation to show in court, if needed
  • Inform drivers of their right to contest the citation in court
  • Document and publicize the operation and its results to the public and media before, during, and afterward
  • Raises driver awareness of pedestrian right-of- way
  • Raises public awareness of pedestrian right- of-way
  • Reduces number of pedestrian complaints at intersections
  • Reduces collisions, injuries, and economic losses associated with crashes
  • Providing adequate staffing and funding
  • Potential negative public reaction to enforcement operation
  • Long-term impacts of operation on pedestrian safety
Where to Use It
  • Local
  • State
Professional Consensus
  • Pedestrian enforcement operations are eligible for federal, state, and local transportation-safety grants

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.