Can new signs help make Plattsburgh safer for pedestrians?

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) A summertime stroll through can change on a dime if someone isn't paying attention to the rules of the road. Now, a New York state initiative is working to change that. We sent Kelly O'Brien to see how the changes are working in Plattsburgh.

The New York State Department of Transportation and health have teamed up with the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee to bring attention to pedestrian safety. They're focused on engineering, education and enforcement.

Driving on the streets of Plattsburgh, a few signs have popped up that are hard to miss.

"It's reflective, it's right there. You turn the corner and think, oh, pedestrians," said Ryan Demers of the North Country Food Co-op.

The vibrant additions to the downtown streets are part of a statewide $110 million campaign to make drivers more aware of pedestrians trying to cross the road.

"We try to cross the road and a lot of the cars aren't paying attention a lot of the time and just zoom right through," said Jennifer LaBombard of Peru, New York.

The state calls it the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. Their goal is to identify current safety conditions and make changes to them over the next five years to reduce injuries and deaths.

"We want our downtown to be very pedestrian-friendly," said Mayor Colin Read, D-Plattsburgh.

The Pedestrian Safety Action Plan Report shows that more than 300 pedestrians are killed statewide each year from a motor vehicle accident. Another 15,000 are injured.

There aren't high numbers of pedestrian accidents in the city of Plattsburgh but officials see it as forward-thinking.

"Forward-thinking in terms of areas that are more specific for high pedestrian traffic," Plattsburgh Police Chief Levi Ritter said.

Those walking or working downtown say there are a number of close calls.

"It happens multiple times a day every day. We see it all the time. People will walk out, they take a step back and [look both ways], a guy is on his phone driving through the intersection. It's dangerous," Demers said

Residents and businesses hope with these new signs up, drivers will slow down and be more aware of their surroundings and think.

"Maybe I should take it easy for a second, just to make sure I don't kill anybody. It's a great step in the right direction," Demers said.

The Department of Transportation gives these tips for pedestrians: be safe and be seen, be smart and alert, and be careful at crossings. As for drivers, they say be alert, be responsible and, most importantly, be patient.