This study was designed to evaluate the potential safety importance of the walking direction along a road by examining pedestrian accidents as a function of exposure to risk. The study was limited to rural two-lane roads with no pavement or pedestrian lane. The accident data included police-reported road accidents from Finland between 2006 and 2010 in which a motorized vehicle had struck a pedestrian walking along the road. There were 18 accidents involving a fatally injured pedestrian and 87 accidents involving a non-fatally injured pedestrian. The exposure data collected from the roughly 3400km included 258 pedestrians. The main finding was that the mean effect of facing traffic compared to walking with traffic was a 77% decrease in fatal and in non-fatal injury pedestrian accidents. The results further showed that the effects were greater for main roads than for secondary roads. The main implication of this study is that information about the importance of facing traffic should be reinforced with specific information about its substantial safety benefits.
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