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Study: Hempstead Turnpike deadliest road in area

A man crosses the turnpike at Uniondale Avenue

A man crosses the turnpike at Uniondale Avenue in Uniondale on Wednesday. Hempstead Turnpike in Nassau County was named the most dangerous road in the Tri-State area for pedestrians, according to a study. (Jan. 6, 2010) Credit: Newsday / Mahala Gaylord

You are more likely to get killed crossing the street on Hempstead Turnpike than on any other road in the tri-state area, according to a study released Wednesday.

And you're not much safer walking across Sunrise Highway in Suffolk County, the study found because its construction caters to motorists rather than pedestrians.

The study by the nonprofit Tri-State Transportation Campaign compiled data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on fatal pedestrian accidents in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut between 2006 and 2008.

>> PHOTOS: Click here to see photos of recent accidents on LI

During that time, there were 13 deaths on Hempstead Turnpike, which spans the length of Nassau County. Sunrise Highway, which starts in Nassau County and continues into eastern Suffolk, was the site of 11 pedestrian deaths between 2006 and 2008, the study said.

Hempstead Turnpike and Sunrise Highway also ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the same study last year, which looked at accidents between 2005 and 2007. Four pedestrians died on Hempstead Turnpike in 2008, and another three died on Sunrise Highway that year.

Middle Country Road, with nine deaths, tied for third on the list.

Deborah Rasuch, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, said the DOT is still reviewing the findings, and has worked closely on pedestrian safety with the campaign. She said the DOT is moving forward on many pedestrian-friendly projects, including the "SafeSeniors" pilot program on Hempstead Turnpike, to add countdown clocks at crosswalks, make crosswalks more visible, and further restrict parking.

Campaign analyst Michelle Ernst, the report author, said the region's most dangerous roads are designed for fast-moving car traffic, but are dotted with retail destinations that attract walkers.

Kate Slevin, executive director of the campaign said Long Island's high ranking on the list was especially alarming because walking rates are much lower than in New York City. "Not everyone in Nassau County owns a car. You do have people crossing the street to get to the grocery store," she said. She called for a more balanced approach to designing Long Island and noted that relatively small investments, such as better road striping, could have a major impact on safety.

>> PHOTOS: Click here to see photos of recent accidents on LI

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