For New Yorkers, walking isn’t a choice – it’s something that’s part of living in our city. Most of the time, for most of us, it’s something that we don’t even think about. As recent events have reminded us, though, everyone who walks needs to start thinking about it a little bit more, and what they can do to make themselves as safe as possible.
You probably already know what we’re talking about. Recently a car plowed through a crowd in
Times Square, killing one person and injuring 22. The driver sped down more than three blocks of city sidewalks before crashing, which understandably terrified the lunchtime crowd.
Obviously, tragedies like this do not happen every day. Other, smaller tragedies, however, do, and if you are going to be walking around New York, you owe it to yourself to be a smarter, more careful pedestrian and watch out for cars.
5 Things New York Pedestrians Should Do to Make Themselves Safer
Don’t Wear Headphones
Getting absorbed in music and podcasts is a popular practice for many pedestrians, but headphones pose a high risk for accidents when you walk on busy sidewalks.
One recent study said that 29% of pedestrians who were hit by a car or train couldn’t hear the approaching sounds, including sirens or horns.
Save your headphones for times when they don’t put you in great danger on your commute, like on the subway or in a taxi. The bottom line: your sense of hearing is a powerful alert system for impending pedestrian accidents. Don’t block it out with headphones.
Use Your Phone Wisely
So many of us use our phones while walking, but it’s wisest to save phone calls, emails, and social media posts for times when you’re less distracted. If you’re too engaged on your phone, you could bump into another pedestrian, a pole, or a bench. Worse, you can risk serious injury if you take a fall or step out into oncoming traffic – or if you’re so absorbed that you don’t notice potential dangers until they’re too late.
A recent study shows that the rate of injury has more than doubled since 2005 for pedestrian-related injuries. Some people have become so distracted by their phones that they have fallen from bridges and walked into traffic.
If you must use your phone while walking, stick to an actual phone call and enlist your eyes to keep watch for obstacles and accidents. No text, phone call, or notification is worth personal injury, so keep yourself focused on your surroundings as much as possible. If possible, wait to take the call or respond to your email when you’re seated.
Follow Signals with Intention
Pedestrian signals are provided for your safety and protection. Yet it’s tempting to jump ahead of the “go” signal if you’re in a hurry. Don’t do this. Remember, you put yourself at greater risk of injury every time you choose not to follow the pedestrian signals.
Be patient and wait for the signal to proceed. Don’t follow the crowd if they walk ahead. Keep in mind that drivers may not expect you to cross after the light changes. You could be injured by a vehicle in motion, and it’s not worth the risk.
Adjust Your Expectations
Even though the common rule is that pedestrians have the right-of-way, don’t always assume that drivers have that in mind. Drivers are more distracted than ever and may not see you trying to cross the street. Don’t expect that drivers have your safety in mind. You must be proactive and watch for any impending trouble.
Know Your Exit Points
If you were faced with an unexpected, life-threatening situation like a car speeding down a sidewalk, how would you respond? You can be more prepared for sudden, unfortunate situations like this one by always knowing your exit points.
Try to walk on the edges of the crowd rather than in the middle. Then you will be able to exit the path more quickly if an unforeseen accident occurs. Always pay attention to your surroundings, keeping your eyes and ears on the crowd and the path. Follow a clear path as often as possible so you can quickly enter a shop or café or cross to a different street in an unusual event.
Of course, sometimes accidents still happen – even to the most careful pedestrians. If you are injured in a pedestrian accident, take these steps to protect yourself.
Seek medical care. As in a wreck, you may not experience the full effects of your injury for several hours. A doctor can evaluate the extent of your injury and advise you on medical care options.
Report the incident to the police. You may feel embarrassed and reluctant to report. Yet your injury deserves attention, and the police can determine whether a report needs to be filed and if someone needs to be held responsible.
Consult with a lawyer. An errant driver needs to be held responsible, and a personal injury lawyer can review your case and advise you on the best route to take. Don’t wait to seek legal counsel if you’ve been hurt.