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Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrians in New York City who frequently use larger streets and major roadways to get around are probably aware of the hazards their commute presents. Just attempting to cross one of these busy streets can be a truly nerve-wracking experience. Presently, many of the more densely populated cities of the nation are struggling to combat a growing trend of injury or fatal incidents involving pedestrians.


Anytime a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, it is inevitably the pedestrian who is seriously or fatally injured. The initial impact of the collision with the vehicle and/or the force with which the victim’s head hits the pavement may lead to catastrophic injuries such as brain and spinal cord trauma, broken bones and internal organ damage. These types of injuries often have a significant emotional and financial impact not only on the victims, but also their families. If you or a loved one has been involved in such a traumatic incident, then it is absolutely essential to know how you can protect your rights.

NYC Pedestrian Accident Statistics 

Recent data indicates that in New York pedestrian accidents have risen significantly. In fact, a spate of fatal pedestrian accidents on New York City streets is putting the year 2014 on track to be one of the most lethal for pedestrians in the last four years. Seven people were struck and killed by vehicles just in the first 12 days of 2014.

If pedestrian fatalities continue to climb at the current rate, the city would have seen 200 pedestrian deaths by the end of the year. Comparatively, there were 156 pedestrian deaths in 2013. According to the city’s statistics, one New Yorker is killed every 35 hours in a traffic crash and for every eight traffic deaths, New Yorkers suffer 100 life-altering injuries including loss of limbs, immobility, traumatic brain injury and chronic pain.

According to the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT):

  • Pedestrians are 10 times more likely to die than someone traveling in a vehicle in the event of a crash.
  • In New York City, pedestrians accounted for more than half (52 percent) of traffic fatalities between 2005 and 2009.
  • Driver inattention caused nearly 36 percent of crashes resulting in pedestrians killed or seriously injured.
  • Also, 27 percent of fatal or serious injury pedestrian accidents involved driver’s failure to yield to pedestrians.
  • In the past two years, 70 percent of pedestrian deaths in the city involved a driver either speeding or failing to yield.
  • Serious pedestrian crashes involving unsafe speeds are twice as lethal as other such crashes.
  • Serious pedestrian crashes are two-thirds more deadly on major street corridors than on smaller local streets.
  • Manhattan has four times as many pedestrians killed or severely injured per mile of street compared to the other four city boroughs.
  • Also, 43 percent of pedestrians killed in Manhattan lived in another borough or outside of New York City.

Common Causes of NYC Pedestrian Accidents

According to the New York City Department of Transportation, the following are some of the common causes of pedestrian accidents citywide. Not surprisingly, almost all of them have to do with driver negligence:

  • Driver inattention: The most common reason for a pedestrian collision in New York City is driver inattention. According to a DOT study, driver inattention is a factor in 36 percent of pedestrian crashes where the pedestrians were killed or seriously injured. Also, studies show that these types of crashes are twice as deadly as others. While driver inattention has long been a major factor in traffic collisions, the issue has assumed greater significance with the increased use of cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices. In a dense urban environment such as New York City, the failure to pay attention to the roadway can prove devastating.
  • Failure to yield: In a recent study, the Department of Transportation found that drivers’ failure to yield to pedestrians is a primary cause of vehicle versus pedestrian collision. Failure to yield is defined as the failure of a driver to yield to a pedestrian who is crossing the street with the light at a legal crosswalk or at a marked stop sign-controlled or uncontrolled crosswalk. Nearly all failure-to-yield pedestrian accidents occur at signalized intersections in New York City. About 27 percent of pedestrian accidents that result in death or serious injury in the city involve a pedestrian crossing with the signal and the driver’s failure to yield.

Although drivers in New York City are required to yield to pedestrians under state law, this violation is shockingly frequent. Notably, failure-to-yield violations are more of a problem in New York City than elsewhere in the nation. Only 14 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes nationwide in 2011 listed failure to yield to a pedestrian as a contributing factor, while that number was 27 percent in New York City.

  • Left turns: Pedestrian crashes involving a driver who is turning left is often more devastating than those where the driver is turning right. When turning left, the driver’s visibility is partially blocked by what is known as the A-pillar or the support between the windshield and the side window of the vehicle. This makes it more difficult for drivers turning left to see pedestrians in the left crosswalk.
  • Speed: About 21 percent of all serious injury and fatal pedestrian crashes could be attributed to speeding in New York City. A recent series of DOT-sponsored focus groups found that most New York City residents were unaware of the city’s default speed limit (30 mph). Furthermore, failing to drive at a safe or appropriate speed that matches local conditions can also lead to pedestrian crashes. Pedestrian accidents involving unsafe vehicle speeds are twice as deadly as others. In fact, research shows that the likelihood of a pedestrian fatality in a crash is directly and exponentially related to the vehicle’s speed when it strikes the pedestrian.
  • Alcohol and/or drugs: Nearly 8 percent of all fatal pedestrian crashes in New York City involve an impaired driver. In New York City, pedestrian crashes that involved impaired drivers were more than twice as likely to result in a death.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero

One of Mayor de Blasio’s first actions after assuming office was to unveil “Vision Zero,” an ambitious plan that aims to eliminate traffic deaths within 10 years. The mayor says he plans to do this with increased enforcement. The city has already set up school zone speed cameras that began issuing warnings to violators. NYPD will start prioritizing enforcement of the most dangerous infractions that cause pedestrian fatalities – speeding and failure to yield.

Also, NYPD will be increasing the size of its highway division, which investigates crashes and performs much of the department’s traffic enforcement, to 270 officers, an increase of 50 percent. The unit has already increased its staff size by 10 percent. Other measures under Vision Zero include the widening of parking lanes, to keep delivery vehicles out of travel lanes while double-parked, and looking into the use of an automated system that could pause a taxicab’s meter if a driver exceeds the speed limit.

The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission has said that it will form an “enforcement squad” focusing on dangerous taxi drivers and begin a pilot program to install black box data recorders in the city’s taxicabs and limousines. Some of the mayor’s proposals such as bringing down the citywide speed limit from 30 to 25 mph and installing red-light cameras require approval in the state capital.

New York City’s Most Dangerous Roadways for Pedestrians

According to an analysis of federal data in 2010 by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Manhattan’s Broadway is New York City’s most dangerous roadway for pedestrians. From 2010 to 2012, nine of the city’s 420 pedestrian deaths occurred on Broadway, with seven of them occurring on or above 99th Street. Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens in the second most dangerous roadway in the city for pedestrians with eight deaths during the same period.

In Manhattan, 2nd Avenue, 1st Avenue, and 7th Avenue were behind Broadway with the most pedestrian fatalities. In Brooklyn, Flatbush was the most dangerous followed by Ocean Parkway, Atlantic Avenue, Avenue J, Belford Avenue and Eastern Parkway. In the Bronx, the most dangerous roadways were East Gun Hill Road, Fordham Road, Grand Concourse, and White Plains Road. In Queens, Woodhaven Boulevard, Northern Boulevard, Queens Boulevard, and Union Turnpike were the deadliest. In Staten Island, Forest Avenue, Port Richmond Avenue, Richmond Avenue, and Victory Avenue were the most lethal for pedestrians.

Curbing Pedestrian Accidents

It is important for both, motorists as well as pedestrians to take safety precautions as they make their way through New York City’s roadways. Pedestrians must:

  • Cross the street only at designated crosswalks. Always cross when you have the light and look for vehicles as you walk across the street. Never assume that drivers will stop.
  • Be careful at intersections where drivers may fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians before turning onto the intersecting street.
  • Increase your visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing reflective clothing.
  • It is safest to walk on a sidewalk. However, if there is no sidewalk or if you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic.
  • Always make eye contact with the motorist as you cross the street. You then know that he or she has seen you.

Motorists must exercise due care at all times by:

  • Keeping a lookout for pedestrians and slowing down at crosswalks and intersections.
  • Being prepared to stop when entering a crosswalk area.
  • Sticking to the speed limit and driving at a speed that is safe and appropriate given traffic, weather and roadway conditions.
  • Stopping and yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians who are in crosswalks. Stop well back so that drivers in other lanes can also see the pedestrians in time to stop.
  • Not overtaking or passing other vehicles that have stopped for pedestrians.
  • Being especially attentive around schools and neighborhoods where children are present.

What to Do if You Are Injured in a Pedestrian Accident

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, there are several steps you can take immediately after the accident to ensure that your rights are protected. First and foremost, if you have been injured, do not deny medical attention. Go to the emergency room and get the treatment and medical care you need right away. If you are unable to return to the scene, have a family member or friend do so and gather information that could prove invaluable should you decide to file a personal injury claim.

You should obtain photographs of the accident scene and your own injuries. Try to save any type of physical evidence including torn or bloodied clothing. Obtain information including contact, insurance, driver’s license number and vehicle license plate for all parties involved. Eyewitness information can also be extremely valuable in these cases. A person who saw the accident occur may be able to corroborate your statement or describe precisely what occurred.

Do not talk to insurance companies or attorneys for other parties. Do not give any statements or admit fault. Keep track of all your expenses including medical and hospital bills, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, etc. Do contact an experienced New York pedestrian accident attorney who will help protect your rights and look out for your best interests. Injured victims of pedestrian accidents can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. Families of deceased victims can also seek compensation for their losses by filing a wrongful death claim.

Contacting an Experienced New York Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Our law firm recently recovered $5,600,000 for a man who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident.

Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

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