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Pedestrian Safety Initiative: See! Be Seen! – Long Island & Upstate NY

In an ongoing attempt to keep New York pedestrians safe, a new public service announcement called See! Be Seen! will begin airing June 15th until June 28th, courtesy of the New York State Department of Health. 

This new PSA will run in the wake of the recent announcement from Governor Cuomo of a new $62 million investment as part of the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, an ongoing initiative to promote pedestrian safety across upstate New York and Long Island. This PSA will highlight rules of the road at intersections for both pedestrians and vehicles. Some of the rules covered in the video include:

  • Vehicles attempting to turn must wait for an intersection to clear of traffic
  • Turning vehicles must wait for the crosswalk to be clear of any pedestrians
  • Pedestrians who are crossing should always be checking for turning vehicles, even if they have the right of way

Of this $62 million investment, $22 million will go towards safety projects involving state roads, while the other $40 million will go towards improving pedestrian safety on local roads. This is part of the larger aim of the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, which will utilize engineering, education and enforcement campaigns to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

In order to spend this money as efficiently as possible, evaluations of roughly 4,400 crosswalks and intersections were performed. These evaluations led to the formulation of multiple upgrades that should be installed in order to increase pedestrian safety, such as:

  • High visibility crosswalk markings and additional signage at intersections
  • Longer crossing times and more timers indicating how much time is left to safely cross
  • Signals which will give pedestrians a head start before vehicles are able to make turns

These sorts of improvements could be extremely impactful considering that, New York State between 2009 and 2013, 69% of urban crashes occurred at intersection or mid-block locations where there was no traffic signal.

The Pedestrian Safety Action Plan further identifies 20 Focus Communities where nearly 50 percent of all pedestrian crashes in New York occurred between 2009 and 2013. These communities will receive extra law enforcement training, funding for safety improvement projects and enforcement of existing pedestrian safety laws as part of a grant solicitation program.

The Action Plan, released in 2016, determined that roughly 300 pedestrians are killed and another 15,000 injured by motor vehicles in New York State every year, and that more than 25% of fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents are pedestrians.

Disturbingly, the study found that 61% of these crashes are related to driver action or inaction, such as driver inattention and failing to yield the right of way. The study also found that the most common actions of drivers who hit pedestrians were driving straight ahead (48%) and making a left hand turn (30%). These are accidents that should be preventable, and the goal is that increased enforcement along with the new See! Be Seen! initiative will help to curb this kind of negligence.

These safety initiatives which target the State of New York have a parallel in New York City under what is known as the Vision Zero Action plan, launched in 2014. The stated intent of this plan is to virtually eliminate traffic fatalities which take the lives of both pedestrians and motorists of New York far too often.

There are about 20 million people in the State of New York and over 8 million people in New York City alone. Putting a complete end to traffic fatalities in our state and city is an ambitious goal which will not come easily. It is very encouraging, however, to see city and state officials making a concerted effort to rid New York of unnecessary traffic accidents which can devastate families and end lives. Hopefully New Yorkers will be able to band together, obey traffic laws with a renewed sense of importance, and help to keep our state safe. 

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