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Crosswalk won't prevent pedestrian accidents

Just because you are a law-abiding pedestrian who always uses the crosswalk and never jaywalks, don't think you are immune from being hit by a motor vehicle. It turns out that victims of pedestrian accidents are most often struck while legally crossing the street in a sidewalk.

This is one of the conclusions of a study at NYU of injured pedestrians and bicyclists. Between December 2008 and June 2011, surgeons, ER doctors and researchers studied more than 1,400 cyclists and pedestrians who were treated at Bellevue Medical Center after being injured in pedestrian or bicycle accidents.

The study focused on what patients themselves reported, supplemented by medical records, witness accounts and reports from first responders. Some of the study's findings were self-evident. For example, 40 percent of the injured cyclists in the study were hit by taxicabs. Others were a little more surprising. It turns out that being overweight offers some protection against injury when hit by a motor vehicle.

Other study findings include:

  • 15 percent of pedestrians had consumed alcohol before the accident
  • 8 percent said they had been using an electronic device, such as a cell phone or I-Pod. The number is higher among younger pedestrians and cyclists
  • Pedestrian accidents generally occur during business hour. On weekdays, 60 percent of pedestrians were hit between 9 AM and 6 PM.

But perhaps the most upsetting finding of the report is that areas considered safe are not that safe. For example, six percent of the injured pedestrians were on a sidewalk. Of those who were injured on the street, 44 percent were in a crosswalk, crossing with the signal. Only 23 percent were crossing in the middle of the block, and nine percent were in the crosswalk but crossing against the signal.

Source: New York Times, "Crosswalks in New York Are Not Havens, Study Finds," Apr. 2, 2013.

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