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NHTSA People Saving People

Technology Transfer Series

Number 263 January 2002



From time to time, highway safety professionals and others have requested information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the safety benefits to pedestrians and bicyclists of specific state and local laws. To fulfill these requests, NHTSA developed an annotated database of existing and model laws related to pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Dunlap and Associates developed the Guide.

Available only on CD ROM or as a download from the NHTSA website, the Resource Guide on Laws Related to Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety includes those provisions of vehicle and traffic laws for every state that may affect pedestrian and bicyclist safety. The safety relevance of each provision was assessed by the developer in three areas:

1. first, its likely effects on the causes of bicycle or pedestrian crashes with motor vehicles,

2. second, the prevention or reduction of bicyclist or pedestrian injuries, and

3. third, possible effects on pedestrian and bicyclist injury-producing situations that do not involve motor vehicles, such as falls.

The Guide also includes model legislation containing specific provisions to improve or increase safe cycling and walking and compares the laws of each state with the selected provisions.

The Guide contains three types of key vehicle and traffic provisions:

Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC)

This section of the Guide is designed to compare specific provisions from one or more states with UVC selections. There are 138 separate provisions selected from the Uniform Vehicle Code (prepared by the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances, 1998 version) to serve as a baseline against which state laws are compared. All laws that referenced pedestrians or bicycles were chosen as were other laws judged to have an impact on pedestrian or bicycle safety. The Guide describes the relevance of each in terms of its potential effect on pedestrian or bicycle safety and lists the comparable law, if any, for each of the 50 states. For each, the Guide indicates the source and includes a description of how the law compares with the UVC standard. For purposes of analysis, each of the state laws for each of the selected provisions was placed in one of the following five categories of conformity: exact, equivalent, variation, local only, and not located.

Existing State Laws and Local Ordinances

This section contains state laws and municipal ordinances that are not included in the UVC but were considered to have a positive effect on pedestrian or bicycle safety. There are 42 innovative laws and ordinances that have actually been implemented in one or more states or municipalities.

Model Laws and Ordinances

This section contains model legislation, based on research into crash causation that is designed to have a positive effect on pedestrian or bicycle safety. Sample legislation for seven laws and ordinances is included. These can be customized by jurisdictions.

Each of these key provisions was cross-referenced to a description of how that concept is implemented in the 50 states. For each state, each provision was labeled as an exact, an equivalent or a variation of the key provision or was not located in the state’s vehicle and traffic law. When no state provision was found but one or more municipal provisions were located, the provision was labeled local only.

Strategies for Using the Guide

The Guide can be used in three main ways:

Select by Key Provision: The user can scan the list of key provision titles and select one to pursue. The Guide will then permit the user to examine the safety relevance of that provision as well as the extent to which each of the 50 states has implemented the provision in its own code.

Select by State: A user interested in the laws of a particular state can go directly to that state and view how the existing laws correspond with key provisions. This approach could, for example, help identify potential new laws to enhance pedestrian or bicyclist safety.

Search by Keyword: The entire database can be searched for keywords of interest to the user. This will then lead to those laws, either key, state or both, that contain the word of interest.


For copies of the CD ROM, Resource Guide on Laws Related to Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety, write to the Office of Research and Traffic Records, NHTSA, NTS-31, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590, send a fax to (202) 366-7096 or, to download it, click HERE. Marvin Levy, Ph.D., was the contract manager.

U.S. Department
of Transportation
National Highway
Traffic Safety

400 Seventh Street, S.W. NTS-31
Washington, DC 20590

Traffic Tech is a publication to disseminate information about traffic safety programs, including evaluations, innovative programs, and new publications. Feel free to copy it as you wish.

If you would like to receive a copy contact:

Linda Cosgrove, Ph.D., Editor, Evaluation Staff
Traffic Safety Programs
(202) 366-2759, fax (202) 366-7096