New York will install countdown signals at 1,500 intersections after driver inattention and failure to yield were cited as the most common cause of pedestrian injuries and deaths in a report by the US Department of Transport.

The Pedestrian Safety Study, which examined traffic data since 2002, reported that of the ten largest US cities, New York recorded the lowest traffic fatality rate.

Pedestrian fatalities in 2009 declined about by 20% from 2001 but pedestrians still account for 52% of traffic fatalities in the city between 2005 and 2009.

Countdown signals display LED numbers to help pedestrians decide if there is sufficient time for crossing busy intersections and reduce the number of pedestrians still in crosswalks during the ‘do not walk’ phase of the light.

The first 250 new signal installations will start in a month and the rest will be installed within the next year.

In a 2009 pilot scheme, the city installed countdown signals at 24 intersections and used video monitoring to analyse the impact.