Reducing Rates of Pedestrian-Car Accidents a Challenge for NYC

New York City is a great place to walk. Visitors are encouraged to walk so they can get the true flavor of the city. Most residents must walk in order to get to the subway, bus or to the nearest major intersection to hail a cab in order to get to work, school or to go shopping.

None of this should be surprising. New York is the only major city in the United States where a majority of residents do not own cars. Overall, 52 percent of New Yorkers city-wide did not have cars and only 22 percent of people in Manhattan owned cars, according to a 2010 Institute for Transportation and Development Policy study. Factors such as these make New York the most transit and pedestrian oriented city in the United States.

Dangers of Walking in the City

However, the large number of pedestrians in New York comes at a cost. Pedestrians are injured or killed in collisions with cars and other motor vehicles every day. According to statistics prepared by Streetsblog, an advocacy group for sustainable transportation and liveable cities, 155 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2012; another 15,465 were injured. The pedestrian fatalities reported for 2012 represent a 23 percent increase over the previous year, according to a December 2012 New York Times story.

Ironically, it turns out that the most dangerous place for pedestrians is the crosswalk. Last April, the New York Times reported on a study conducted by NYU researchers between December 2008 and June 2011. They looked at people treated at Bellevue Hospital Center after car accidents and other traffic incidents.

The study revealed some surprising findings, the most startling being that carrying some extra weight protects pedestrians who are hit by cars. However, heavy patients do worse once they get to the hospital, so the benefits of being overweight are most important at the time of the collision itself.

Another finding is that at least 15 percent of pedestrians injured in motor vehicle accidents were legally drunk. The study identified distracted walking as a factor: at least eight percent of pedestrians were injured while using a cell phone or other electronic device. The number climbed to 10 percent when age was considered; 10 percent of pedestrians between the ages of 7 and 17 were using electronic devices when hit.

In addition to the 44 percent of the subjects injured while using a crosswalk with the light, the study found that six percent were walking or standing on the sidewalk. Others were hit while crossing in the middle of the block, crossing against the light, or standing in the street hailing a cab or waiting to cross.

Locations of Accidents

Where do these pedestrian accidents occur? It is difficult to get accessible data from the New York Police Department about the locations of traffic accidents, including pedestrian accidents, in part because the NYPD only tracks accidents at intersections rather than on cross streets. However, several third parties have developed ways to massage the data released by NYPD, providing some insight into where pedestrian accidents are most likely to happen.

Manhattan Dangerous Intersections

One place where third-party information is reported is a website called Dangerous Roads NYC. This site recently listed the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in Manhattan. According to the website, walkers should take extra care at the following intersections:

  • Amsterdam Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard
  • 8 th Avenue and West 34 th Street
  • 1 st Avenue and East 23 rd Street
  • 9 th Avenue and West 42 rd Street
  • 8 th Avenue and West 42 rd Street
  • Frederick Douglas Boulevard and 145 th Street
  • Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and West 145 th Street
  • 3 rd Avenue and East 22 nd Street
  • Lexington Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  • Broadway and East 17 th Street

The website, which can be found at http://dangerousroadsnyc.com/, allows users to enter intersection information and receive mapped summaries of pedestrian injuries and fatalities anywhere in the five boroughs.

Brooklyn Dangerous Intersections and Streets

The most dangerous intersection in New York is in Brooklyn, at Utica Avenue and Eastern Parkway. Between 1995 and 2009, six fatalities and 149 crashes occurred. Not too far away is another dangerous Brooklyn intersection at Atlantic Avenue and Nostrand Avenue. Ocean Parkway in general is dangerous for pedestrians, with six fatalities since 2009. Kings Highway, Coney Island Avenue, Bedford Avenue and Flatbush Avenue are also known to be dangerous for pedestrians.

Bronx and Queens Streets

Dangerous streets for pedestrians in Queens include the infamous Queens Boulevard, coined the "Boulevard of Death" by local tabloids. Woodhaven Boulevard, Rockaway Boulevard, Union Turnpike, Northern Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue all appear on lists of dangerous places for pedestrians. Bronx streets with the most pedestrian fatalities are East Gunhill Road and Broadway, with a total of 10 fatalities since 2009. Other roads dangerous for pedestrians are Baychester Avenue, Eastchester Avenue, the Grand Concourse and Fordham Road.

Staten Island Streets

Although in general Staten Island roadways see fewer accidents, some streets still stand out. Richmond Boulevard had the most fatal pedestrian accidents, with three reported since 2009.

Sources of information about accidents vary. Some list intersections, some list streets, others list only those reported to police and still others provide information based on insurance claims. However, most of the same intersections and streets reappear on different lists, confirming that they are dangerous and often fatal for New York City pedestrians.

If you were injured or lost a loved one in a pedestrian-vehicle accident, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine your options.