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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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.
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