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Pedestrian Hit and Killed by MTA Bus in Jackson Heights, Queens

An MTA bus in Queens struck and dragged a pedestrian who was later pronounced dead at Elmhurst Medical Center on the morning of Monday, March 4, 2019.

The accident occurred at around 3 a.m. when the driver of the Q33 bus tried to make a left turn onto 75th Street from Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens. At some point, the unidentified 55-year-old bus driver was "alerted that there was someone" being dragged beneath his bus and came to a stop, though reports vary as to how long the victim was dragged for.

The driver stayed on scene, and police say no criminality is suspected and it appears the driver didn't realize he had hit somebody. NYPD and the MTA are investigating the collision, specifically what role inclement weather may have played as snow began to fall overnight.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of the unidentified victim.

Although it is premature to draw conclusions before the investigation has been completed, the frequency of serious traffic accidents and injuries in New York City this year has been noteworthy. In February 2019, a 70-year-old woman was struck by an MTA bus and dragged for nearly 30 feet before she was able to be rescued by FDNY.

One similarity between the two cases, besides the fact that they both involved an MTA bus striking a pedestrian, is that each bus was attempting to make a left turn when the crash occurred. One study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated the causes of 5,471 motor vehicle accidents from around the country, and found that 36% of involved vehicles were turning or crossing at an intersection when the accident occurred. Specifically, turning left was cited three times as often as turning right.

There are a few reasons why making a left turn is statistically more dangerous than making a right turn, although it should be emphasized once again that the investigation into this accident is ongoing. Generally speaking, however, left turns present more hazards that all road users need to be aware of:

  • Negotiating Oncoming Traffic: Because a left turn usually involves cutting across at least one lane of oncoming traffic, motorists need to be aware of and gauge the speed of other vehicles before deciding when to turn.
  • Obstructed Views and Pedestrians: While a stopped car is waiting for an oncoming vehicle to pass, a pedestrian may take this as a good time to cross the street. If the motorist waiting to turn doesn't see or anticipate the pedestrian and tries to turn as soon as oncoming traffic allows, the results could be disastrous.
  • Wider Turning Radius: Left turns require a greater distance to be traveled than right turns. This gives a motorist more room to pick up speed, and also presents the opportunity for the driver to quickly accelerate to try and beat oncoming traffic.

Tragedies such as this serve as grim reminders of how seriously motorists, cyclists and pedestrians must take traffic safety. Particularly at intersections with many vehicles attempting to make a left turn, there are a variety of subtle dangers that everybody needs to be aware of. When traffic hazards are underestimated, fatal accidents such as this can be the result.

If you or someone you love have been injured in a New York motor vehicle accident, call 212-736-5300 to receive a free legal consultation.