It would seem to make sense that pedestrian countdown signals-which visually alert pedestrians as to the length of time they have to cross an intersection-would reduce pedestrian-vehicle accidents.
Last year, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) did a pilot study and found that the signals improved safety for pedestrians in crosswalks.
As a result of that study’s findings, the DOT announced that it would be installing the countdown signals at 1,500 locations throughout New York City as part of its plan to enhance safety for walkers. The signals will be installed at major corridors, as well as at those intersections deemed high-pedestrian car crash locations. The announcement was made by Commissioner Sadik-Khan and two council members who supported the pilot study on pedestrian-vehicle accidents.
The study that prompted the move to install the signals involved over 7,000 accidents with injuries and fatalities from crashes with motor vehicles, and which identified underlying causes. It found that major corridors were two-thirds more likely to have serious pedestrian accidents than smaller local streets.
Pedestrian-vehicle accidents in which speed played a factor were the most likely to cause a fatality. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the study found that most New Yorkers were unaware that most New York City streets have a speed limit of 30 miles per hour.
Other improvements designed to increase pedestrian safety in the city are also expected to be introduced, including the reengineering of 60 miles of streets, and a pilot program in which a 20 mile per hour zone will be tested in a neighborhood to determine if the lower speed limit will impact pedestrian safety. Regarding the standard speed limit of 30 miles per hour, a program to educate New Yorkers called “That’s Why It’s 30″ will be pitched to remind residents of the speed limit and the dangers of speeding.
New York City residents can find the location of some of the pedestrian countdown signals by going to the www.nyc.gov website. It also lists the locations where the highest rates of pedestrian-vehicle accidents occurred in 2008 and 2009.