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Deaths spur call for safer Swiss zebra crossings

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Deaths spur call for safer Swiss zebra crossings
Pedestrian crossing in Lausanne with worn paint, one of the safety concerns raised. Photo: TCS
09:15 CET+01:00
Touring Club Schweiz (TCS), the motorists' support group, is calling on municipalities across Switzerland to boost measures to improve safety at marked pedestrian crossings in the wake of ongoing accidents in such areas.

The latest victim from such an accident died on the weekend, Valais cantonal police said on Sunday.

The 27-year-old man was struck by a car driven by a 61-year-old Italian man on November 25th in the town on Monthey.

Seriously wounded, the victim was transported by helicopter to the Sion hospital, where he died during the night on Saturday, police said.

He is just the latest victim caught in Swiss zebra crossings, where last year 1,023 pedestrians were struck by vehicles and 21 people died, the TCS said.

Particularly at risk are the elderly, with 70 percent of victims over the age of 64.

The motoring club, which has conducted a study of crossings in 21 Swiss cities, found that in terms of design, accessibility and lighting, only a third were considered adequate from a safety point of view.

The TCS said in the city of Zurich it noted no improvements at zebra crossings that were previously singled out for safety deficiencies, such as worn paint, three years previous.

Hiko Cicero, chairman of the Zurich transport service department, said there have been no accidents in recent years at those crossings studied by the club, the Blick newspaper reported.

But the city is upgrading 400 crossings elsewhere in Zurich, he said.

The municipality of Langendorf in the canton Solothurn has taken steps to improve safety at such crosswalks.

On one street a bus stop was relocated and a centre island built in the centre of the road.

But in October, a 76-year-old woman became the second person to die in a pedestrian crossing accident in the town this year when she was knocked over by a truck.

All safety improvements “are useless if road users are not careful,” Langendorf Mayor Hans-Peter Berger told Blick .

The 51-year-old mayor was speaking from bitter experience: 31 years ago he was struck while walking on a road after a motorist disregarded a stop signal, the newspaper said.

The accident left him a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. 

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