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DC plans to change light timing at 270 intersections, but will it make pedestrians safer?

The key change is called a Leading Pedestrian Interval, giving pedestrians a head start when crossing.

WASHINGTON — District officials have a goal of zero traffic deaths, but it goes beyond those behind the wheel. Those on foot are getting more visibility, shorter crosswalks and now more time to cross the road.

"We’re prioritizing pedestrian safety," District Department of Transportation Director Jeff Marootian said.

His crews just adjusted the timing of hundreds of pedestrian signals across the District.

"We want people to feel safe and we want to ensure that people are safer when they cross the street," Marootian said.

DDOT did an analysis, then took to its computerized signal network. It added more time for pedestrians to cross at 270 intersections citywide. Marootian said pedestrians will get an extra three or four seconds to cross.

"A few seconds makes a big difference and what we hear from pedestrians is they want more time to cross at intersections especially those larger intersections," Marootian said. "What we're doing here is adding them to those locations that need the most amount of time."

The key to change is called a Leading Pedestrian Interval. That means pedestrians get a head start when crossing. They get a walk signal three seconds earlier than cars get a green light. The hope is to keep cars from turning through crosswalks.

RELATED: It’s the most dangerous time of year for pedestrians in our area. Here’s what you can do

The National Association of City Transportation officials said that cuts down on pedestrian crashes by 60%. Marootian said in some cases, the wait for cars is a few seconds longer, but it’s worth it on a quest to curb crashes.

"We are all pedestrians at some point throughout our day," Marootian said. "And what we’re doing here is making sure the pedestrian experience is safe for everybody and across the District of Columbia."

RELATED: Pedestrian killed in hit-and-run crash in Upper Marlboro

You can get in touch with DDOT about your local intersection here. 

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