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Continuing look at walker-posed dangers: How can deaths be curbed?

New York City safety regulators and advocates have joined municipal officials from other cities across the country and globe in adopting aggressive initiatives to materially cut down on serious and fatal accidents involving vehicles. We spotlighted NYC's ambitious "Vision Zero" safety effort in our February 20 blog post of this year. We noted in that entry the hope of city regulators to someday render the metro entirely accident-free.

Although that is of course a lofty - some people might even say utopian and unrealizable - goal, an attempt to realize such an outcome is certainly laudable and worthy of pursuit.

Presently there is much work to be done. That is eminently clear from dire pedestrian-linked accident data that another of our blog entries recently highlighted. We noted in our May 15 entry empirical data indicating that close to 6,000 American pedestrians died in vehicle collisions in a recent year.

What should a program such as Vision Zero and other municipal accident-reduction initiatives be focusing upon to drive down the sad and alarming accident/fatality numbers relevant to walkers in the United States?

A recent Consumer Reports article on America's pedestrian deaths and safety promotion efforts cites experts who have some ideas.

In a dense and crowded area like New York City, a special effort must be made to proactively stay ahead of maintenance issues on streets and at crossings. Speed limits need to be reduced in select areas. Better urban design must be implemented to make vehicle-heavy locales more walker-friendly, with pedestrians being safely separated from cars, trucks, buses and municipal vehicles. And vehicles themselves need next-stage safety and lighting enhancements to help them avoid hitting walkers in the first place.

Obviously, it's a work in progress. It needs to be undertaken with emphasis and absolute commitment, though, if the streets of New York City and other American metro areas are to truly realize increased safety benefits for pedestrians.

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