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Long Islanders need a break from dangerous roads

Four cars traveling on Jericho Turnpike collided in

Four cars traveling on Jericho Turnpike collided in Huntington, according to witnesses. (Jan. 2, 2010) Photo Credit: Peter Walden Sr.

It's no surprise to anyone who drives the road - or dares to cross it on foot. Of course, Hempstead Turnpike is a prizewinning death trap for pedestrians.

And Sunrise Highway isn't much safer.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign has the numbers to prove it now. But here's the truly maddening part: It doesn't have to be that way.

"Pedestrian improvements offer a tremendous bang for the buck," said Kate Slevin, who directs the nonprofit campaign. "Even with limited resources, the New York State Department of Transportation can step up efforts to design more balanced, walkable streets."

Yeah, like what? Well, like lots of things besides "keep the walkers away." These aren't limited-access Interstates. They are local roads gone crazy busy, bisecting important retail strips. People have to walk there.

So let's do the stuff we know will work.

Better striping, for instance. Low-glare lighting. Countdown clocks at crosswalks. More thoughtful parking placement. Clearer lane dividers. Stop lights and speed limits that allow regular people - not just Olympic sprinters - to get across safely.

The turnpike's "SafeSeniors" campaign is a wonderful start. But why is it just a pilot program?

There's a whole Smart Highway movement, dreaming up other new technology that will keep cars moving - and keep pedestrians alive. Let's tap into that, too.

Said Paul Steely White from the group Transportation Alternatives: "That so many streets should be hostile to walking is appalling."

Most Dangerous Road is one prize Long Island doesn't have to accept.

READ MORE: Click here to read, "Study: Hempstead Turnpike deadliest road in area"

>> PHOTOS: Click here to see the latest photos of accidents on Long Island

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E-mail ellis@henican.comFollow on Twitter.com/henican

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