New focus on pedestrian safety through federal grants, website

Pedestrian deaths have been on the rise for the last two years nationwide. In an effort to turn those numbers around, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is making $2 million in pedestrian safety grants available to cities with the highest rate of pedestrian deaths and the Federal Highway Administration has created a new website with safety tips and resources for those with pedestrian safety in mind, including government leaders, transportation planners, community groups and parents who are teaching their children about walking safely. "Whether you live in a city or a small town, and whether you drive a car, take the bus or ride a train, at some point in the day, everyone is a pedestrian," said Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary. "We all have a reason to support pedestrian safety, and now, everyone has new tools to help make a difference." In 2011, NHTSA data showed 4,432 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes – an 8 percent increase since 2009. What's more, three out of four pedestrian deaths occurred in urban areas, 70 percent of those killed lost their lives at non-intersections, and 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred after dark, the agency reported. Many of those nighttime deaths involved alcohol, according to NHTSA. "We continue to see high rates of pedestrian fatalities in major cities and across every demographic," said David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator. "To help stop the recent increase in deaths and injuries, we need everyone to play a role in pedestrian safety. Working with partners on the federal, state, local and individual level, we hope to turn this concerning trend around." States have until Aug. 30 to apply for a piece of the grant funding to be used for education and enforcement initiatives in 22 cities where pedestrian deaths are greater than the national average.
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