Pedestrians walk past 3 World Trade Center, under const... Pedestrians walk past 3 World Trade Center, under construction, on Wednesdya in New York City. (AP photo).
For the past two week, New Yorkers have marveled at the sights of the latest concept cars and production vehicles at the annual New York Auto Show. As the show winds into its final weekend, they're turning their attention back toward the darker side of driving.

The city's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, has made curbing traffic death in the city one of his top priorities. On Friday, New York was one of three U.S. cities that received a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to help crack down on drivers who do not yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

"Everyone is a pedestrian at some point in their day, and these grants give local communities an opportunity to shine a spotlight on their pedestrian safety concerns," said David Friedman, NHTSA's acting administrator, on hand for an announcement at the Jacob Javits Center.

Across the country, the number of pedestrian deaths has risen for three consecutive years, even as the overall number of traffic fatalities has declined. In 2012, the latest year for which statistics are available, 4,473 pedestrians were killed in the U.S., representing 11 percent of the overall traffic deaths.

Pedestrian threats have been particularly acute in New York, where in 2012, pedestrian deaths represented 47 percent of the city's traffic fatalities. Since taking office earlier this year, Bill de Blasio, the city's mayor, has made curbing traffic fatalities one of his top priorities. He has instituted a transportation program called Vision Zero, which aims to eliminate traffic deaths in the city by 2024.

There have been 59 traffic fatalities in the city through March this year, according to Right Of Way, a New York organization that tracks deaths and advocates for "the basic human right to move about in public space without being intimidated, injured or worse." Thirty-four of the dead were pedestrians, according to the group's statistics.

Pedestrian deaths are the leading injury-related cause of death for children under 14 in the city, and the second-leading cause for senior citizens. Vehicles seriously injure or kill a New Yorker every two hours, according to the city's Department of Transportation.

New York was awarded $805,801 in the grant, and will use the money to step up enforcement in high-crash areas and work on an awareness campaign targeted toward young men, who are the most likely to be involved in pedestrian crashes.

Philadelphia and Louisville, Kentucky were also awarded grants from the Department of Transportation on Friday.

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at peter.bigelow@teamaol.com and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.


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