NEW YORK (WABC) -- A national study has found that pedestrian deaths across the country have reached the highest levels in 28 years.
The study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 5,987 pedestrians were killed in 2016 -- the highest number since 1990 and up 46 percent from 2009, which was considered a low point in pedestrian fatalities.
The report found that most pedestrian deaths occurred at night and at spots with either no crosswalks or poorly designed crosswalks. The crashes often involved SUVs.
"There is a lot of roadway design that has to be done to make pedestrians safer so that stepping off the curb in the wrong spot shouldn't be a life or death situation," said Elissa Kyle with Vision Long Island.
The group is working to improve Long Island's downtown areas and is putting a major focus on pedestrian safety.
"Without safety for all users, then the road is not functioning as it should," Kyle said.
According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, out of the 320 pedestrians killed in New York State in 2016, most had the right-of-way and were crossing the street with a walk signal. Most of the accidents were caused by driver distraction or inattention.
Jivanna Bennaeim of Great Neck has become a spokesperson for creating safer roadways. Her husband, Oren Bennaeim, was killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing Middle Neck Road in Great Neck in 2016. Jivanna Bennaeim said he was in the crosswalk and had the right-of-way.
"When someone dies, especially this way, it feels so senseless and so sad and it continues to happen, so every time I hear someone was hit by a car or someone was killed, it just feels like something has to change," she said.
Last month the federal government announced its Vision Zero initiative -- the first of its kind at the federal level. The goal is to reduce roadway deaths to zero by 2050. The plan emphasizes the importance of roadway and traffic design to improve both vehicle and pedestrian safety. Click here to read the report.