I would bet this is almost an exclusively American problem as when I lived in Europe for almost 9 years, drivers were aware of and respected pedestrian crosswalks!
"Streets are no longer primarily for moving traffic as quickly as possible. That's a very 1950s notion of middle America," said Noah Budnick, the deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, a New York research and advocacy group. "Our streets are where we live in this city, and walking is the primary mode of how people get around. But older people simply don't have enough time to cross the street."
Transportation for America, based in Washington, highlighted the issue last month in "Dangerous By Design," a study of traffic fatalities from 2000 through 2009. Nationwide, people 65 and older make up 13% of the population but represent about 22% of pedestrian deaths.