New York City aims to reduce pedestrian deaths

Consumer Reports News: May 13, 2011 03:23 PM

In an effort to improve pedestrian safety, while reminding drivers that its busy streets do, in fact, have speed limits, the city of New York plans to install new signs that will admonish drivers traveling faster than 30 mph to slow down, while displaying an image of a skeletal pedestrian.

An accompanying new ad campaign points out that a pedestrian hit by a car traveling at 30 mph, the city speed limit, has an 80 percent survival rate. But those hit by a car traveling at 40 mph face a 70 percent chance of death.

The New York Times reports the signs will be installed this summer, at locations yet to be announced. Similar to the images of pedestrians displayed at intersections indicating when it is safe to cross the street, the city hopes the electronic signs displaying the morbid image will drive home the point that drivers need to watch out for their friends on foot.

The city also plans to reduce the speed limit to 20 mph in one Bronx neighborhood in a pilot project to see if it makes streets safer. The Claremont section of the borough has had a historically higher rate of crashes than other parts of New York.

Areas of lower Manhattan, on the other hand, are known for traffic so heavy the average speed is just 9.3 miles per hour on weekdays. But drivers still tend to accelerate quickly, especially when lights are changing, to race through traffic to the next light. And with so many pedestrians now isolating themselves from street noise with music played through headphones or busy with text messaging, distracted walking only adds to the danger.

Maybe the signs will help, if anybody notices them. What do you think?

Jim Travers

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