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What Are the Leading Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in New York City?

The number of pedestrian accidents in New York City for both 2017 and 2018 was far fewer than in previous years. This drop in accidents is attributed to greater awareness of pedestrian fatalities, reduced speed limits in many parts of the city, and changes to traffic patterns and crosswalk timing. Some of these changes are part of the city’s participation in a widespread initiative to lower the rate of pedestrian accidents, called Vision Zero.

Yet, New York City’s intersections and crosswalks are still among the most dangerous for pedestrians in the United States. Consistently, there are more pedestrian accidents here than anywhere else. There were over 10,000 pedestrians injured in New York City last year and multiple deaths. As one of New York City’s top personal injury law firms, we take a look at the leading causes of pedestrian accidents in New York City and what both drivers and pedestrians can do differently to stop them.

#1: Hurried Left-Hand Turns

Each year one of the leading causes of pedestrian accidents in New York City are left-hand turns. There are several situations that prove dangerous for pedestrian and driver. First, at some New York City intersections, the crosswalk signal and changing light coincide. A driver may attempt to turn before oncoming traffic, oblivious that a pedestrian has already entered the crosswalk. At other times, a vehicle turning left must act quickly to make it through the intersection on a green or yellow light.

Given that there are nearly three times as many pedestrian accidents when a driver turns left, versus when making a right, New York City has taken measures to decrease the number of pedestrians injured in the crosswalk. At some intersections, pedestrians cross all at once, while traffic in all directions is at a red light. Other intersections have a delayed green light that allows pedestrians to start crossing well in advance of vehicle traffic.

#2: Electronics and Other Distractions

Cell phones are a major factor in vehicle accidents in the United States, with the National Safety Council stating that nearly 1.6 million car accidents attributed to electronic devices each year. Similarly, cell phone use is also a top cause of pedestrian accidents in New York City. As phones take a driver’s eye away from the road, it is far easier to run a red light or miss a crosswalk.

However, not all pedestrian accidents due to electronics are the fault of the driver. Pedestrians can be negligent in causing an accident too. A pedestrian could be at fault, or at least contribute to, the cause of a collision or accident for failing to observe posted signs, entering a crosswalk without the proper signal, and crossing the street outside the crosswalk. All of these incidents are far more likely when a device is taking the person’s attention.

#3: Speeding and Higher Speed Limits

New York City has taken substantial steps to reduce the speed limit in several parts of the city. While the local government hopes these efforts will decrease the number of accidents overall, lower speeds are specifically correlated to a drop in pedestrian accidents. The faster a car is going at the time a child or distracted walker enters an intersection, the less time there is for the driver to react. Lowering speed limits to 25 miles per hour throughout the city should, in theory, result in more drivers avoiding pedestrian accidents.

In certain neighborhood “slow zones” New York City is lowering the speed limit to 20 miles per hour. These are heavily residential streets where people, including children, are regularly outside, walking on narrow streets, and using the sidewalks.

#4: Crosswalks Outside an Intersection

Most New York City crosswalks are placed where two streets cross. Intersections are considered safer locations for crosswalks because vehicles are forced to come to a stop at a light or stop sign and drivers are generally more vigilant as they approach the intersection. What about crosswalks that aren’t placed at an intersection?

On several New York City streets, there is a need for a crosswalk outside the intersection. These crosswalks can be in areas where pedestrian traffic is very high or an attraction or tourist site was leading to extensive jaywalking. While these places to cross make the roads safer for pedestrians, some drivers still fail to slow down or stop when approaching a crosswalk.

Contacting a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

If you are involved in a pedestrian accident in New York City, then it is imperative that you understand your liability for the incident and know when to seek damages from the at-fault party. A pedestrian accident lawyer at the Law Office of David S. Leigh, P.C., is ready to help with your case. To talk with our legal team and arrange a free initial consultation, call our office at (212) 843-0907.


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Law Office of David S. Leigh
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David S. Leigh

David S. Leigh is a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer committed to helping those in the New York Metro area recover and find fair compensation after an accident or injury. 


David has helped my small business (photography) with several proposals and bid letters. He also took the time to explain the language of each letter. I would definitely use David again for all the legal needs of my business! William F Spencer
William Spencer
William Spencer
21:58 30 Aug 16
I worked with David while at the District Attorney's office. David is very knowledgeable in the law. David has outstanding attention to detail and the critical ability to see the big picture, then find and question the inconsistencies in the reports. This is a fundamental skill that makes a good criminal defense lawyer great. I highly recommend David.
Greg Green
Greg Green
20:27 07 Oct 15
David is a tireless advocate for his clients and a consummate professional with whom I've worked on a variety of legal matters. His character and integrity surely set him apart from many of his contemporaries. As colleague, I wholeheartedly recommend David to anyone seeking counsel in the NYC area.
Hari K. Singh
Hari K. Singh
13:32 05 Oct 15
David is a first-rate trial lawyer. Having had the opportunity to both watch him in trial and personally try a case with him, I can say that I would be glad to have him working with me on a case. His delivery is excellent, as is his ability to connect with a jury.
Bryce Allen
Bryce Allen
21:13 15 Nov 15
Knowledgable and great to work withI can't say enough good things about David. My husband needed his help with language for documents he'd need for his business. David was knowledgeable and told us exactly what we needed to hear. I can't think of anyone else I'd want to work with. The next time we need legal counsel, we're calling David.
Yahaira Castro
Yahaira Castro
14:41 28 Sep 15
I was looking for a personal injury lawyer and a friend of mine referred me to David. David is really smart and also great to work with. He really listens to you, works hard and he knows how to get results.
Lili Grossman
Lili Grossman
17:36 29 Oct 18
When my mother suffered back and shoulder injuries due to a car accident, Mr. Leigh went above and beyond to make sure she was rightfully compensated for her traumatic ordeal. He was tough with the insurance company yet very patient with my older mom, as he navigated her through these complex negotiations. He exemplifies what a personal injury attorney should be and we highly recommend him.
Max Patino
Max Patino
19:02 29 Oct 18
David is a top-notch lawyer who is very diligent in all that he does. He is not only a sharp legal mind, but actually has interpersonal skills that make him a caring advocate for his clients. I have had the privilege of working with David in private law practice and can easily say that few attorneys match him in personability, advocacy, verbal ability, and in-court and deposition strategy.
Samae Rohani
Samae Rohani
01:40 30 Oct 18
I was helping my cousin find an attorney and came across David's firm. We contacted him immediately and scheduled a consultation. He was very thorough and provided us with all the details we needed.
03:27 20 Dec 18
Thoughtful, knowledegable and a great attorney. I needed some legal advice and representation. He was everything you could ask for in a lawyer. David is top notch and I would highly recommend him.
Marisa Osorio
Marisa Osorio
21:24 26 Dec 18
David Leigh is a top notch attorney that I have worked with closely. He has integrity, excellent legal ability, and is able to obtain optimal results for his clients. I recommend him wholeheartedly to anyone looking for the highest level of representation.
Stephanie Plana
Stephanie Plana
22:02 18 Jan 19


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