Cities alarmed by deaths and injuries of pedestrians are ramping up efforts to make crosswalks safer for people on foot, especially seniors and children who need more time to cross streets, reports USA Today. A pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash in the USA every 110 minutes; one is injured every nine minutes, according to federal data. Crosswalks can be especially perilous for the elderly. Among people 70 and older, 36% of pedestrian deaths in 2006 occurred at intersections, compared with 21% of those younger than 70, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The Federal Highway Administration will recommend next year that states increase by nearly 15% the amount of time traffic signals afford pedestrians to cross the street after the flashing orange hand appears. FHWA spokesman Doug Hecox says reasons for the change include an aging population that needs more time to cross; health-conscious Americans walking more; children encouraged to walk to prevent obesity and high gas prices pushing people to walk instead of drive. In 2006, 471 pedestrians nationwide were killed in crosswalks. Several factors contribute to danger at crosswalks: highways are designed and built primarily to accommodate vehicles, not pedestrians; most pedestrian accidents at intersections involve turning vehicles, and about one-third of pedestrian deaths result from their disobeying traffic signals or using poor judgment.