As we mentioned recently, one of the biggest reasons pedestrians are injured is crossing at unmarked intersections. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration recently reported that more than 40% of all crashes (about 2.5 million every year) with injuries and/or fatalities occur at intersections.
Why Intersections Are Much More Dangerous
Drivers are in a precarious situation where visibility may be inhibited. Many intersections are impeded by landscaping, especially trees, shrubs and bushes. Buildings, parked cars and street fixtures like benches and bus shelters can also inhibit your visibility. As a result, it’s difficult to make a safe turn if you’re unable to see what’s coming.
A “blind intersection” is one where there are no stop signs on any corner, and is without visibility for 100 feet in either direction during the 100 feet before you cross it.
Left turns are frequently the cause of intersection crashes. These crashes can be caused by either an error in recognition or a distracted driver not seeing the vehicle coming in the opposite direction.
Another problem is the decision to make a left turn with an oncoming car in the other lane, and assuming that the other driver will stop to allow you to finish your turn instead of speeding up to make the green light before it turns red.
Injuries at intersections can range from bruises and scrapes to broken bones, lacerations, internal injuries, traumatic brain injuries and even death.
Protecting Yourself from an Intersection Accident
While the city focuses on the Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic deaths to zero, everyone has an obligation to ensure that the intersection is safe to cross before crossing it.
If you’re a driver:
- Be especially observant of everything happening around you, and check your blind spots.
- Slow down to 5mph and brake when approaching an intersection, and get ready to stop even if you do have the right of way. Although you may have the green light, it may not be safe to cross right away.
- Expect that other drivers as well as bicyclists and pedestrians will not pay attention and fail to follow the rules of the road.
- After stopping, yield to other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists before you enter the intersection.
- Continually look around to see potential problems in front and all around you, particularly pedestrians.
If you’re a NYC pedestrian:
- Avoid walking while doing anything that could distract you from paying complete attention, particularly texting, listening to music loudly, or otherwise paying attention to your phone instead of where you’re going
- If you do listen to music with ear buds, make sure you can hear sirens, horns and other attention-getting noises over the music to avoid being injured yourself
- Stay alert: use intersections with crosswalks, and pay attention to the lights before proceeding to ensure that it’s safe to cross
- No jaywalking or darting into the middle of the street to get across
- Plan your route if you’re walking to a part of the city you’re not familiar with
New York City has also installed bollards, or “pedestrian safety islands” in the middle of many streets for pedestrians to be able to stop before crossing. Unfortunately, these concrete bollards can also be obstacles for drivers turning at intersections, especially if the driver doesn’t see them immediately.
New York is also looking into “protected intersections” for both bicyclists and pedestrians, and has so far, installed four of them to supplement dedicated bike lanes in the city. Bike lanes are especially dangerous at intersections, because the protected bike lanes end there. If successful, these new intersections will give pedestrians and bicyclists alike another layer of protection against accidents.
After An Intersection Accident In NYC
After a New York City intersection accident, it’s imperative to get medical attention as soon as you are able. Your next step on the way to recovery is finding an accident attorney who can help you recover damages from the responsible party.
Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier has been helping accident victims for over 25 years, and are ready to help you recover the most from your accident. Call our East Village accident attorneys today at (212) 777-9400, or contact us online. The consultation is free, and you won’t owe a fee until we win your case.