Pedestrian accidents have many causes, but disregard for other people’s safety is a major reason. Helpfully, New York’s Vehicle & Traffic Law lays out detailed rules that both pedestrians and motorists must follow. If everyone would simply obey the law, the number of accidents would decline dramatically.
At Larson & Gallivan Law, we pride ourselves on promoting public safety. To that end, we summarize some of the most important New York laws relating to pedestrians. Please call us if you are struck by a negligent driver. AGlen Falls personal injury lawyer will meet for a free consultation and, based on what we hear, advise whether you have a valid legal claim for compensation.
Know Your Traffic Signals
Section 1112 of the New York Vehicle & Traffic Law says that pedestrians should follow these rules regarding traffic signals:
- Steady WALK signal: You can start crossing the road in the direction of the signal, and traffic should stop for you.
- Flashing DON’T WALK signal: You should not step off the curb to cross the road. Wait until the steady WALK signal illuminates again. But someone already in the crosswalk can proceed to the other side or a safety island as the light flashes DON’T WALK.
- Steady DON’T WALK signal: You should not start across the road, but those who are in the crosswalk should go to the sidewalk or safety island.
When crossing, pedestrians should use the right-hand side of the crosswalk. That helps promote the easy flow of foot traffic, just as driving on the right-hand side of the road helps move vehicles along.
We see many people fling themselves into a crosswalk as the DON’T WALK signal is flashing, which is a violation of the Vehicle & Traffic Law.
Right of Way in Crosswalk
When there is no traffic signal, then pedestrians and drivers should remember the following rules:
- A pedestrian in the crosswalk has the right of way, and vehicles should stop.
- No vehicle should overtake a stopped vehicle. That would lead to an accident.
- No pedestrian should step from the curb suddenly and walk so closely to a car that an accident is inevitable.
Essentially, when there are no traffic control devices, pedestrians should wait for traffic to clear before entering the crosswalk. Once they are in the crosswalk, oncoming traffic must stop.
Crossing Other than a Crosswalk
If there’s a marked crosswalk, you should use it. You should also cross at an intersection if there is no marked crosswalk.
If you cross the road at some other location, you must yield to all the vehicles on the road. You also should never cross diagonally at an intersection unless it is authorized by traffic-control lights.
Walk on the Sidewalk
If there’s a sidewalk, then pedestrians should use it because it is illegal to walk in the road if there is a useable sidewalk. Of course, the sidewalk might be obstructed or falling into disrepair, in which case you can walk on the left-hand side of the road, facing traffic. You should be as far to the side as possible.
Don’t Stand in the Road
Maybe you are waiting for an Uber or another ride. But no one should stand in the road to solicit a ride or business. Stand on the sidewalk if one is available.
Drivers Must Use Due Care
Section 1146 VAT requires that all drivers use due care to prevent a collision with a pedestrian or bicyclist on the road. You should also sound the horn, if necessary, to alert the pedestrian/cyclist to your location.
This law clarifies that motorists should always take reasonable precautions to avoid a collision. If a pedestrian lunges into the road, that’s not a license to strike them if you could reasonably avoid a crash.
Drivers who cause physical injuries when not operating a vehicle carefully can face criminal charges, which can also affect their ability to keep their license. They are also liable in a personal injury claim to anyone they struck.
Pedestrians Must also Be Careful
Pedestrians also must use reasonable care when crossing streets or walking on the sidewalk. You should never throw yourself into traffic or take any unreasonable action. That will have a serious effect on your personal injury claim.
New York’s comparative negligence rule comes into play when pedestrians have been negligent. This law states that in any personal injury case, a victim’s negligence will count against them. Although it won’t bar you from suing, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
So if you jaywalk, you could be 75% responsible for a crash, and that would mean receiving only 25% of the compensation you otherwise might receive. That might seem unfair—after all, you probably suffered horrifying injuries in the collision, whereas the motorist walked away just fine. Still, if your own negligence contributes to an accident, you will definitely receive less.
Other Steps to Minimize Accidents
In addition to following the rules listed above, pedestrians can take simple steps that reduce the risk of a crash:
- Don’t walk while distracted. You should take ear buds out so that you can hear an approaching car and hop out of the way.
- Be careful at night. Many accidents happen when visibility is reduced. You should try to wear a reflective jacket or possibly even walk with a flashlight. This is another reason to walk on the sidewalk.
- Watch out for bicyclists, too. They can collide with pedestrians while going at high speeds and cause serious injuries.
- When in doubt, wait to cross. It’s easy to misjudge the speed of cars, especially ones that are speeding.
If we all work together, we can reduce the number of serious pedestrian accidents in Glens Falls and surrounding areas.
Call Larson & Gallivan Law for Assistance
Anyone who calls 518-862-8799 can talk with a member of our legal team. In a consultation, we can also answer your questions and discuss possible compensation. Do not hesitate to reach out. We can meet injured victims anywhere, including the hospital or their homes.