New York City Pedestrian Safety
Now that over eight million people live in New York City and the population swells by another two million or more during the work week, it’s a wonder that pedestrian accidents aren’t completely overwhelming local hospitals. In fact, at least up until a few years ago, pedestrian accidents were still increasing annually to unacceptable levels explains Arkady Frekhtman, one of the NYC pedestrian knockdown accident attorneys at the F&A injury law firm in Manhattan. During 2013, pedestrian deaths reached 180 – the highest number for the past decade.
Fortunately, citizen advocacy groups, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Governor Cuomo all stepped in and demanded critical changes in the way our city and state proactively tries to protect pedestrians. De Blasio’s Vision Zero Plan and Governor Cuomo’s New York State Pedestrian Safety Action Plan are finally starting to make a difference. The latter program mainly seeks to address safety issues outside the New York City area in targeted focus communities that have recorded especially high numbers of pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
While pedestrian accidents will continue to remain a serious concern for all New Yorkers for many years to come, efforts to decrease them are heartening. Here’s a look at the types of new or improved measures that are helping to better address this critical public safety issue. This information is followed by safety tips that can help all of us better protect ourselves when we’re out walking.
Ongoing Changes Being Made in New York to Decrease Pedestrian Accidents
- We’re creating more highly visible crosswalks. In some cases, these lines are being repainted and in other areas, they’re being painted for the first time;
- Pedestrian refuge islands are being built. While no structures are fully safe, they can certainly increase visibility to passing motorists;
- Traffic signals will soon have longer crossing times – and that will be clearly indicated;
- Countdown timers will be installed. These provide audial reminders as to how much more time pedestrians have to make it safely across the street (assuming motorists are carefully scanning the horizon for those on foot);
- Fewer parking spots will be allowed in some areas near corners. This design change can greatly increase each motorist’s range of vision when turning corners – decreasing their chances of hitting pedestrians crossing a street;
- There are increased law enforcement efforts to help prevent pedestrian right-of-way and speeding violations;
- More pedestrian accident investigations are being pursued – including situations where “only” critical injuries are involved – and not just deaths;
- Street design changes are being made that increase pedestrian visibility
While all of these changes should help, far more must be done on a permanent basis to better protect pedestrians – especially since over 36% of New York’s serious vehicle accidents involve distracted drivers – those simply not paying attention to the road. This is a key concern since many of New York’s – and America’s — most dangerous drivers aren’t drunk or on dangerous drugs – they just don’t care enough to keep their eyes on the road while driving. Playing with cell phones plays a big role in many accidents – and this activity rarely results in any penalty – unless someone is killed or the driver receives a misdemeanor citation.
Fortunately, there are steps many of us can take to decrease pedestrian accidents. If we’re behind the wheel – we must keep our eyes on the road and obey all traffic signals. If we’re the vulnerable pedestrian, we can take the following precautions.
Ways to Move Along As a Much Safer New York Pedestrian
- Always wear highly visible clothing. If your suit or dress is a bland or dark color, consider wearing an added, brightly colored jacket or vest;
- Avoid wearing high heels or heeled boots on the streets. These can easily cause you to trip or fall – greatly increasing your chances of being hit by a car, truck or motorcycle;
- Never wear any types of headphones or earplugs. When you do this, you’re blocking out the last chance you might have to hear a vehicle approaching — and moving away before it hits you;
- Don’t ever talk on a cell phone or look at the screen while walking. The Internet is full of uploaded videos of people addicted to their phones – who are falling into large fountains or down flights of stairs while still talking on their cell phones;
- Don’t jaywalk. There may always be people who die this way – determined to avoid obeying logical regulations/laws at all costs;
- Obey all traffic signs and signals. Likewise, only walk in areas on the sides of highways/roadways where it’s clearly allowed;
- Keep your eyes alert – always try to see approaching motorists since many aren’t making any attempt to see you.
Should you be seriously harmed during any New York City pedestrian accident – or while walking elsewhere in this state – be sure to obtain the medical care you need and contact your New York City auto accident attorney right away.