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Oct 21, 2013 10:09 PM by Samantha Ptashkin

Do crosswalks give pedestrians a false sense of security?

TUCSON- Cars constantly zip by on Speedway Blvd, but most pedestrians figure they're safe in a crosswalk.

"I usually use a crosswalk, so you would think the drivers would stop because they see you in the crosswalk," Pedestrian Shawn Pam says.

But Pam has noticed that is not the case.

Over the weekend 28-year-old Matt Bono was heading south in a crosswalk at Richey and Speedway, when he was hit and killed by a truck driver.

The driver, 74-year-old Edward George, was arrested and booked into jail on one count of second degree murder. Police found George was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.

"Sometimes you'll have a person that just flies through," Pam says. "There are people who just don't want to wait."

So far in 2013, 16 pedestrians have been killed. In 2012 there were a total of six pedestrians killed. "We are very concerned about that number," says Andrew McGovern of the Tucson Department of Transportation.

The city's goal is to put in more HAWK crosswalks, where pedestrians push a button, then a light turns red indicating drivers need to stop. HAWK crosswalks can be installed every 600 feet. The crosswalk at Richey and Speedway is not a HAWK crosswalk.

But there is a problem.

Funding only allows the city to install two to three HAWK crosswalks each year.

McGovern says right now there are 80 intersections on the waiting list. The intersection at Richey and Speedway ranks 44th in terms of priority. "The criteria includes the number of crashes at the intersection, the severity of those crashes, the volume and speed of traffic, as well as proximity to major pedestrian generators, like parks, schools, hospitals and malls," McGovern says.

According to Tucson Police, so far in 2013 there have been seven collisions at Richey and Speedway.

But even as the city installs more crosswalks that light up, McGovern says just because you're in a crosswalk, doesn't mean you're safe. "It's safe as long as the pedestrians and drivers going through it are aware of their surroundings and paying attention," McGovern says.

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