Pedestrian Accidents: How to Stay Safe on New York Streets

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Pedestrian accidents happen on a daily basis, in some of the least likely places in the city, to areas of town that gauge high on the danger zone. We like to think we’re safe when walking along the streets of New York heading to the local grocery store or window shopping along the decorated routes, but large mishaps can occur as a result of seemingly small oversights. Pedestrian accidents are those accidents involving someone “on foot” in areas where there are moving vehicles. Pedestrian accidents occur in all forms, from crossing the sidewalk, to being hit in a parking lot while walking to a car, to a child running into the street to retrieve a basketball that has rolled into traffic. While they involve all ages of pedestrians, elders and small children seem to rank highest for incidents involving emergency care.

How many of us are actually paying attention these days when walking on sidewalks or roadways? With so many distractions at our hands, we sometimes forget that walking cautiously is just as important as defensive driving. We know that on the road it’s important to pay attention while we’re driving—attentive to our own driving, as well as driving defensively to protect ourselves against the drivers who might not be paying as much attention as we are. But, as a pedestrian, we have to be aware of those very same drivers in an entirely different way. When walking, it’s important to be aware of drivers who fit these criteria:

  • The driver who hugs the shoulder of the road too closely. These are the drivers who might not be comfortable driving in a construction zone or other area, so they tend to stay farther right than needed—right in the area where you are walking. They may be driving differently due to lighting conditions like sunrise or sunset where the sun can be blinding, or in dimly visible areas due to weather conditions.
  • The driver who fails to yield the right of way or fails to stop. These are the drivers who are not paying attention to the road signs, or think they can “beat” the person walking by taking a risk and driving too quickly in the yield zone, or making a right hand turn before one has finished crossing the road.
  • The driver who is drunk or distracted. These are the drivers who may be speeding, texting or using their cell phones. This category also includes the drivers who are intoxicated or impaired from alcohol or other drugs. Their reaction time is slower and their reflexes are not as astute as they would be normally. A drunk or distracted driver is always an accident waiting to happen.

Various agencies perform studies on a regular basis to determine trends in pedestrian accidents. The studies and resulting reports include factors such as where and when the accident occurred, the type of victim involved, and an analysis of any events that may have triggered the accident. Based on these findings, boroughs of New York can then strive to make changes in traffic signals, walking areas, and roadway signs that might help prevent accidents from occurring in the future.

If you must walk in an area or along a roadway that is highly occupied by moving vehicles of any type, you’ll want to be extra cautious of your surroundings, particularly in instances like the ones listed below:

  • In remote areas, the lighting and visibility might not be laid out as well as on a main street. A car could easily drive into the area where you are walking and not even see you.
  • A trip to the mailbox could prove injurious if the mail carrier or delivery truck driver is not paying as much attention as he should.
  • Anytime you are walking at sunset or sundown there is probability that, depending on where the road twists and turns, the driver may not be able to see you due to sunlight obstruction. Their vision is very different from yours, as they have the glare of the car window to contend with.
  • When in a parking lot, be aware of vehicles backing out of a parking space and the driver who forgets to look backward one last time before backing out.
  • Vehicles on an expressway or highway will be travelling at high rates of speed, and may not see you or even think that anyone would be walking on a busy road. They are not able to slow down or stop until it’s too late.
  • When walking on poor or uneven sidewalks and roads, there is always a chance of slipping, falling into traffic or sliding on gravel. If the city or other municipality was involved in maintaining the area, there may be cause to bring a claim against them if they failed to provide safe conditions in an area designated for walkers.

If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident in New York, you know the injuries could be very severe depending on how fast the vehicle was moving, what type of vehicle was involved, and how quickly you responded to protect yourself against any further injury or oncoming traffic. Enlisting the counsel of a New York law firm who is familiar with the area, as well as one who has experience in pedestrian accidents, is your first course of action. They will then investigate your situation thoroughly to ensure that you are compensated for your injuries now and in the future.