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Safety on the Sidewalk: Pedestrian Rights in NYC

In New York City, crossing the street as a pedestrian can be a bit scary. According to the New York Times, the number of pedestrian fatalities increased from 107 in 2017 to 114 in 2018, with many more injured annually. While the city has implemented a number of safety improvements in an effort to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities, it’s up to pedestrians to know their rights on the road.

Pedestrian Rights at a CrosswalkPeople crossing the street within a crosswalk in New York City

Fortunately, many intersections have crosswalks to help avoid pedestrian accidents. The New York Vehicle and Traffic Law requires pedestrians to obey traffic control signals by waiting for the “WALK” sign or person symbol to appear before crossing. Pedestrians maintain the right of way at intersections without signals. However, drivers always have the right of way on roads without a crosswalk.

Pedestrian Rights on the Sidewalk

There are also laws that govern sidewalk use that every resident and visitor should be aware of. As long as the sidewalk is safe, those traveling on foot are required to use it. If the sidewalk isn’t safe, or there’s no sidewalk at all, pedestrians must walk on the far left side of the roadway, facing traffic. Drivers must always yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk when entering or exiting the roadway.

NYC Right of Way Law

The city’s Right of Way Law seeks to make NYC safer by serving misdemeanor charges, fines, and other penalties to drivers who fail to yield when pedestrians have the right of way. Those who fail to yield but don’t cause injuries can be fined up to $100; if an accident results in injury or death, a driver can be fined up to $250 and spend 30 days in jail.

As a pedestrian, educating yourself on the law is the first step toward staying safe on the sidewalk. However, accidents still happen when drivers fail to adhere to the city’s Right of Way laws. If you’ve been injured by a motorist, you’ve likely experienced pain and suffering that has upset your life. Leav & Steinberg LLP has proven results assisting clients with pedestrian and transportation accidents, and our experienced attorneys may be able to help you decide the next step to take. Contact Leav & Steinberg LLP today at 212-766-5222 to request a free consultation.