Hempstead Turnpike bears the unwanted distinction of being Long Island’s most dangerous road. In May of this year the New York State Department of Transportation (“NYSDOT”) announced a series of pedestrian safety improvements along the 16-mile Hempstead Turnpike. This week begins the implementation of the improvements based upon NYSDOT’s engineering analysis that examined crash data, traffic signal functioning, pedestrian markings, lighting conditions, vehicle speeds, bus stops and pedestrian behavior. NYSDOT reviewed every motor vehicle crash involving a pedestrian from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2011. There were 326 pedestrian crashes identified, including 20 fatalities.
Some pedestrian safety improvements concerning engineering of the roadway have already been made, and others are to begin this week, including remarking and widening crosswalks, increasing pedestrian crossing times at traffic signals, reprogramming dozens of crosswalks, adding pedestrian countdown timers to all signalized intersections, relocating bus stops closer to crosswalks, and installing additional no turn on red signs.
Crossing buttons will feature buttons that light up and stay lit when they are pushed, confirming for pedestrians that pedestrian signal phase has been initiated and that they should wait for the “Walk” signal to help them cross the street safely. Also, raised medians where pedestrians frequently cross mid-block will be built to provide refuge from traffic.
Besides the engineering improvements, the Nassau County Traffic Safety Board initiated a public education campaign focused on pedestrian safety. NYSDOT is working with Nassau County and local school districts to share education materials that are being created for the Safe Routes to School program in the Village of Hempstead.
In addition, the Nassau County Police Department stepped up enforcement along Hempstead Turnpike, increasing patrols and deploying “Your Speed is” electronic signs to remind motorists of their speeds.
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