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State of New York to Spend Millions Improving Pedestrian Safety in Urban, Suburban, and Rural Areas

$110 Million for New York Pedestrian Safety Initiatives

When we think about pedestrian accidents in New York, many of us immediately think about busy city streets and heavy traffic that can pose dangers in Manhattan. However, suburban and even rural areas make up much of the state of New York, and it is important to consider pedestrian safety measures in a wide variety of environments. According to a recent report in the Times Union, the state has made plans to spend $110 million on pedestrian safety initiatives in response to the high number of fatalities this year.

As Matthew Driscoll, the state Department of Transportation Commissioner, explained, “pedestrian safety is a challenge” as “more than 300 pedestrians are killed and 15,000 are injured each year in New York state.” The $110 million will be spent in the next five years on varying efforts to reduce the risk of serious accidents and injuries for New Yorkers who are on foot. The funding comes largely in response to a series of fatal accidents in the state, including the deaths of children and teens.

What are some of the initial plans? First, the state plans to “examine all 200,000 of its crosswalks that do not have walk signals,” installing those signals and making it safer for pedestrians to cross the street. In addition, officials plan to develop criteria for local governments to apply for and to obtain grants to improve pedestrian safety in their specific areas. Moreover, police will increase efforts to stop drivers who violate traffic laws in ways that are particularly harmful to pedestrians. To step up enforcement, police officers will be “targeting pedestrian hot spots.” Other plans in the coming years include installing school zone signs, installing devices informing drivers of their speeds, and making plans for more pedestrian overpasses.

Getting the Facts About Pedestrians Accidents 

According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4,700 pedestrians suffer fatal injuries in traffic collisions each year in the U.S. To put that number another way, one pedestrian dies every two hours as a result of a traffic collision. Thousands more pedestrians suffer serious injuries that require immediate medical treatment. Indeed, the CDC reports that emergency departments treated more than 150,000 pedestrians in 2013 for non-fatal injuries sustained in traffic collisions.

What can we do to prevent pedestrian accidents? According to the CDC, it is important to consider the following safety tips:

  • Carry a flashlight and wear retro-reflective clothes if you are walking at night to improve your visibility to drivers;
  • Always cross the street at a crosswalk or an intersection if possible;
  • Always walk on a sidewalk or pedestrian path when possible, but if you must walk on the road, you should always walk on the shoulder in the direction facing traffic;
  • Do not drink alcohol before walking (more than one-third of all pedestrian fatalities involve a pedestrian with a blood alcohol concentration beyond the legal driving limit);
  • Monitor children closely when you are walking, and model safe pedestrian behavior for them; and
  • Whenever possible, do not permit an elderly loved one to walk alone, as nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths involved victims aged 65 and up.
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