In an effort to reduce the number of pedestrians hit by cars, a new research project conducted by the state Department of Transportation and the University of Connecticut is studying the type of crossing signals at some intersections.\u00a0 Eight municipalities across Connecticut received upgraded crossing signal lights as part of the research project run by DOT and UConn\u2019s Connecticut Transportation Institute, which looks at traffic patterns and ways to improve safety on the state\u2019s roads. Two of the upgraded crosswalk signals are in Groton, with one each in Bridgeport, Clinton, Danbury, Darien, Middletown, Shelton and Windham, according to Marisa Auguste, one of the project\u2019s researchers. \u201cThe Traffic Engineering Division of the Connecticut Department of Transportation recently completed installations of concurrent pedestrian crosswalk signals at several intersections around the state to improve safety,\u201d Auguste said. In the study, side street crossing signals were switched to concurrent signals, which allow pedestrians to cross the main road while drivers traveling in the same direction have a green light, she said. Side street greens mean pedestrians can cross a major road while cars on that street have a red light, but cars on a smaller side street have a green light, she said. \u201cConcurrent pedestrian signals clarify when pedestrians should cross while also reducing delays for both pedestrians and drivers,\u201d Auguste said. \u201cPedestrians will use a push button to initiate the 'WALK' signal to appear, indicating that it\u2019s safe to cross," she said. "A flashing countdown meter lets pedestrians know how much time they have left to cross the road. Drivers turning left or right must yield to pedestrians crossing the road.\u201d The study focuses on side streets with pedestrian crossing signals that look like miniature stop lights, with a green light to signal it is safe for pedestrians to cross, DOT spokesperson Josh Morgan said. Concurrent signals are clearer, by flashing \u201cWALK\u201d or \u201cDON\u2019T WALK\u201d and including a countdown message for pedestrians, Morgan said.\u2014 The study, which was funded with a $200,000 Federal Highway Administration grant, began with the first few crossing lights installed in May and June, he said. \u00a0The final three crossing signals, located in Bridgeport, Darien and Shelton, were installed and put online within the last week, Morgan said. The project's goal is to determine whether concurrent signals are safer than exclusive signaling, said John Ivan, the project's leader and a UConn engineering professor. Exclusive signaling halts traffic from all directions to allow pedestrians to cross. \u201cPedestrians don\u2019t wait for 'WALK' signals at exclusives, then the car shows up by time they\u2019re across the street. The turning vehicle arrives, doesn\u2019t expect pedestrians in the crosswalk,\u201d Ivan said. \u201cBottom line is, exclusive is safer when pedestrians wait \u2014 but they don\u2019t wait. The drivers especially get frustrated when a pedestrian pushes the button. but doesn\u2019t wait, and then the walk signal comes, and everyone's stopped and there\u2019s no one walking.\u201d The concurrent signals are most often used in areas with high pedestrian volume, but they can be less effective as it takes longer for the signal to cycle through the green traffic lights and allow pedestrians to cross, he said. With exclusive signaling, \u201cthere were fewer total crashes, but they were more severe,\u201d Ivan said. \u201cWe found fewer crashes overall, irrespective of phase, but looked at the crashes at intersections. There were more pedestrian crashes at side street greens compared to exclusive. But there were more serious pedestrian crashes at exclusive phases.\u201d In 2019, 53 pedestrians were killed by cars in Connecticut, according to the nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association. In 2020, the number of pedestrian fatalities rose to 61 in the state, according to GHSA. From January 2021 to September 2022, the state reported 1,884 car crashes involving pedestrians, according to UConn\u2019s crash data depository. In September alone, there were 74 car incidents involving pedestrians, according to DOT\u2019s crash database. A major concern in the study\u2019s effectiveness, however, is the low pedestrian use of the areas studied, Ivan said. \u201c(DOT) gave us a list of locations that they were considering ... then we selected from that list. Essentially to create a study design so that we could control for factors that we think would be important and related to interactions between pedestrians and vehicles for examples,\u201d Ivan said. \u201cWe looked at all locations on Google Earth to make sure it\u2019s a place where there actually were pedestrians.\u201d Despite the preparation, Ivan and his team said they are concerned about the lack of pedestrians in the designated areas. A group of undergraduate students working with Ivan spent hours stationed near the crosswalks in the study to observe pedestrian and driver behaviors. \u201cWe did not anticipate or think-through how few pedestrians there are. We looked at all the locations one-by-one to see, are there houses on one side and businesses on other?\u201d Ivan said. \u201cWe looked at some we thought for sure there was going to be a lot, like a senior center on one side and neighborhood on other and: nobody.\u201d Included in the study are crosswalks with the new concurrent signals, a few with the old stoplight-style crossing signals and some with exclusive signals for comparison, he said. Aside from the crosswalk signal, each of the intersections has the same variables, including distance to cross the street, traffic volume and whether there are sidewalks on both sides, Ivan said. The study's observation period began in July and is expected to conclude at the end of October. Ivan said he hopes to prepare a draft of the study report in about March and complete a final report by June. Abigail Brone can be reached at email@example.com.