PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Crossing the street in Phoenix can be dangerous, even when you are careful and in a crosswalk.

Over the years, Phoenix has been ranked one of the most dangerous cities in the country for pedestrians, but that may be starting to change.

Kini Knudson is director of the Phoenix Street Transportation Department.

He said the city has created an Office of Pedestrian Safety that focuses non-stop on identifying dangerous streets and intersections that need new crosswalks, light signals and median islands.

"We have data that shows there's a 65-percent reduction in pedestrian fatalities in areas where we do put these high traffic signals, "said Knudson. "That's nationwide data, as well."

In the past two years, the city of Phoenix has added 37 HAWK, or High intensity Activated Crosswalk signals, to trouble spots around town.

HAWK crosswalk

HAWK stands for High-intensity Activated Crosswalk. The system is designed to make it safer for people to cross the street.

The HAWK signals allow pedestrians to push a button and create a red light, requiring cars to stop while they cross the street.

The city has also installed dozens of high visibility crosswalks with extra signage and stripping. They have repaved streets and added more lighting to streets where visibility is low and its hard for drivers to see pedestrians at night.

A three mile stretch of 35th Avenue, from I-10 to Camelback Road,  is one of the city's hot spots when it comes to pedestrian accidents.

Pedestrian Collision Hot Spots for Phoenix 2013-2017

This map highlights the pedestrian collision hot spots for Phoenix from 2013 to 2017.

The city of Phoenix recently received a $17.5 million federal grant, to give the area a make-over, and make the busy corridor safer.

The section of 35th Avenue mentioned earlier, between I-10 and Camelback Road, will be getting new HAWK signals, traffic light upgrades and new lighting over the next few years.

"We're all very used to moving around in our vehicles, but for many residents who may be too young or elderly, and disabled people in our community, they need this," said Pedestrian Safety Coordinator Mailen Pankiewicz. "It's definitely a lot better to be able to come up to a place where we signalize that location with a red light, so that vehicles can stop and pedestrians can proceed."

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
 
 

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