According to an Institute for Traffic Safety Management Resource Fact Sheet, 300 pedestrians are killed each year in motor vehicle crashes in New York State and another 15,000 are injured. As a pedestrian, you are most likely to get hit while crossing the street. In fact, more than half (62%) of urban crashes involving pedestrians occurred during crossing according to the New York State Pedestrian Safety Traffic Plan prepared by the New York State Departments of Transportation and Health and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.
In Nassau and Suffolk
Some Long Island communities have a particularly poor driving record and are among the worst in the state. When New York State communities were ranked by the number of pedestrian crashes that occurred between 2009 and 2013, Long Island communities accounted for eight of the top twenty communities ranked and Hempstead had the highest number of crashes of all communities in upstate New York and Long Island. Other ranked communities included Brookhaven (number 7), Islip (number 8), Oyster Bay (number 9), N. Hempstead (number 10), Babylon (number 11), Huntington (number 14), and Freeport (number 19).
Now that summer is here and it’s time to visit all of the season’s hottest spots, do you remember the “rules of the road”? Drivers are at fault for 60 percent of pedestrian-related crashes. According to New York State law, “Pedestrians have the right of way in all crosswalks and at intersections with marked or unmarked crosswalks. Motorists have the right of way at all locations other than intersections and marked crosswalks”. If you choose not to use a crosswalk, you relinquish your right of way and must yield to vehicles. Jaywalking, or crossing an intersection diagonally is also considered illegal and could land you with a ticket and hefty fine. Trying to hail a cab or find your Uber? As a pedestrian, the law prohibits you from standing in the road for almost any reason including trying to catch a ride or guarding a parking spot. Additional information can be found on New York State’s pedestrian safety website.
Learning more and staying safe
It’s not enough to simply follow the rules of the road. Pedestrians must pay attention to their environment to fully ensure their safety. The ITSMR data referenced above indicates that 31 percent of crashes that result in a pedestrian injury or fatality occur when a pedestrian is crossing with the traffic signal. That’s why it’s important to “see and be seen” – which is one of the state Department of Health’s many education and awareness campaigns to help drivers and pedestrians make safe decisions in dangerous situations.
A few simple choices can keep you and your family safe. Be sure to pay attention while walking and especially while crossing the street. This means avoid texting and crossing at all costs since pedestrian errors or confusion is responsible for almost 31% of crashes involving injury or death. Make eye contact with drivers at the intersection so that you can ensure they see you and look before crossing even if you have the right of way.
If you are travelling with children, teens, or young adults this summer, take extra care. Pedestrians between ages of 10 and 29 are most likely to be involved in a pedestrian-related crash. Want to make sure kids in your community are educated on traffic safety? Encourage school and summer camp teachers to schedule traffic safety education programs through the NY Coalition for Transportation Safety. THE NYCTS will provide a 30 to 45 minute programs covering pedestrian and bicycle safety to children, teens, adults, and seniors at any school, library, senior center or community center in your area.