City of Phoenix installing flashing crosswalks to try to prevent pedestrian crashes

PHOENIX - Arizona ranks among the worst states for pedestrian traffic fatalities, according to data released in recent weeks. 

Numbers from the Governors Highway Safety Association show that in the first half of 2017, Arizona saw 113 pedestrians killed by a vehicle. That marks an 11.9 percent increase over the same time period a year earlier. 

"People are not paying attention," said Alberto Gutier, the Director of the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety. "People are distracted when they're crossing streets and then some of the drivers from the vehicles...may be distracted."

Phoenix makes up just part of the problem, and the city is taking steps to make streets as safe as possible for pedestrians. Thus far, the City of Phoenix has installed roughly 38 High Intensity Activated Crosswalks, known as HAWKS, and two more are on the way. 

A HAWK consists of flashing red lights, warning drivers to stop and allowing pedestrians to cross. According to city officials, they cost between $80,000 and $120,000, which is about half the cost of a traffic signal. 

"It's a shared responsibility as well," said Carl Langford, the Safety and Neighborhood Traffic Engineer with the City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department. "Pedestrians need to be safe, be aware, don't walk out in front of traffic and drivers as well need to be aware."

After an ABC15 report, the City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department will look into the area of 67th Avenue and Indian School, where a teen, 15, was killed earlier this year. According to a city official, potential trouble spots are reviewed every Spring, with solutions determined in the Summer. 

"We look at them and say, where is our greatest need," Langford said. "(We then) determine from there what is the right solution, whether it be a HAWK, whether it be just a crosswalk, whether it be just a flashing beacon of some type."

Two new HAWKS will become operational in the coming months. One at 11th Avenue and Grand Avenue and another at 7th Street and Jones Avenue, where there is a nearby veteran community. 

"Sometimes it's scary," said Frank Soza, who lives nearby. "A lot of (drivers) don't stop."

ABC15 cameras caught several close-calls in the existing crosswalk in less than 10 minutes. Neighbors say the HAWK, which is currently under construction, should be a big help.

"If it just saves one (life)'s worth it all day," said neighbor Bryan Houtkooper.

If you would like to request a crosswalk or report a traffic issue, you can call the City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department at 602-262-6284.

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