use of google street view to assess environmental contributions to pedestrian injury

OBJECTIVES: To demonstrate an information technology-based approach to assess characteristics of streets and intersections associated with injuries that is less costly and time-consuming than location-based studies of pedestrian injury.

METHODS: We used imagery captured by Google Street View from 2007 to 2011 to assess 9 characteristics of 532 intersections within New York City. We controlled for estimated pedestrian count and estimated the relation between intersections' characteristics and frequency of injurious collisions.

RESULTS: The count of pedestrian injuries at intersections was associated with the presence of marked crosswalks (80% increase; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2%, 218%), pedestrian signals (156% increase; 95% CI = 69%, 259%), nearby billboards (42% increase; 95% CI = 7%, 90%), and bus stops (120% increase; 95% CI = 51%, 220%). Injury incidence per pedestrian was lower at intersections with higher estimated pedestrian volumes.

CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with in-person study observations, the information-technology approach found traffic islands, visual advertising, bus stops, and crosswalk infrastructures to be associated with elevated counts of pedestrian injury in New York City. Virtual site visits for pedestrian injury control studies are a viable and informative methodology.

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