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Officials Highlight Pedestrian Safety Efforts Across NY

NYSDOT Commissioner Paul Karas and other officials
WAMC Elizabeth Hill
NYSDOT Commissioner Paul Karas and other officials

State officials are outlining efforts to increase pedestrian safety across New York.

The See! Be Seen! Initiative was created three years ago by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration. The state has since allocated millions of dollars in funding across New York to enhance pedestrian safety. Paul Karas, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, met with area officials in Schenectady Monday to announce funding for the Electric City.

“June 15th marks [the beginning of a] two-week pedestrian enforcement initiative here in Schenectady and across New York state.  Law enforcement agencies will work to not only enforce the law but educate both motorists and pedestrians in their responsibilities under the law,” says Karas.

Karas announced $22 million will fund pedestrian safety projects on state roads across New York.  He also said more than $40 million will be invested on local roads.  $3.4 million has been allotted for Capital Region streets.

“Nearly a million and a half dollars to the city of Albany for pedestrian signal installations and crosswalk upgrades.  More than a million dollars to the city of Schenectady to upgrade pedestrian facilities at 10 intersections.  $500,000 to the city of Rensselaer to upgrade multiple signalized intersections and $400,000 to the town of Clifton Park to upgrade multiple signalized intersections at Clifton Park Center,” says Karas.

Ed Kosiur, a Democrat, is the president of the Schenectady City Council.

“With the extraordinary renaissance of our downtown and as the city continues to develop, there is a need to upgrade our existing infrastructure to keep pace. The safety of our pedestrians and most of all the safety of our children will be greatly served by these upgrades,” says Kosiur.

State Department of Motor Vehicles Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan says the upgrades and the See! Be Seen! Initiative are making streets safer.

“During the two-week operation, officers and communities that have the highest rate of pedestrian involved crashes will step up patrols at busy pedestrian quarters.  They will be issuing warning notices, informative tip cards and in some cases tickets to both motorists and pedestrians who violate the law in an effort to protect those who use our roads,” says Egan.

Egan says the initiative hopes to reduce pedestrian fatalities by 20 percent from 2013 stats by the end of 2021.

“Preliminary data from the Institute of Traffic Safety Management and Research shows that in 2017, the number of pedestrian fatalities is down almost 26 percent.  In fact, the number is the lowest it has been in almost 10 years and pedestrian fatalities are lower than the national average,” says Egan.

New York State Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Sally Dreslin says traffic-related injuries are the leading cause of injury-related death, the second leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and the third leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits.

“From 2011 to 2014, injuries to pedestrians in New York resulted in an average of 12,000 emergency department visits, 3,000 inpatient hospitalizations and 300 deaths,” says Dreslin.

Dreslin says those numbers are decreasing under the See! Be Seen! Initiative. She also detailed the Health Department’s new multilingual print and media campaign.

“The public service announcement that was created will begin airing in the coming weeks and focuses on correct motorist and pedestrian behavior,” says Dreslin.

See! Be Seen! runs from June 15th through the 28th.

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