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Pedestrians can help protect themselves from an accident

As New York pedestrians and motorists cross paths, pedestrians cannot rely on drivers to avoid a crash.

Walkers and individuals in wheelchairs are pedestrians under state law, and they must follow rules and practices designed for safety.

Pedestrians must follow traffic rules

The state lays out rules that help pedestrians protect themselves.

Pedestrians should cross the street at a crosswalk or, if one is not available, at an intersection. Motorists must yield to people on foot and in wheelchairs at both crosswalks and intersections. Pedestrians do not have the right to cross wherever it suits them, and they must yield to drivers outside of these areas. Motorists also have the right-of-way if a pedestrian tunnel or overpass is available.

Pedestrians must heed traffic signals and not attempt a crossing if a “don’t walk” or upraised hand signal is flashing or steady. If the intersection has no signal, pedestrians should not cross until traffic moving in the same direction has a green light.

Roundabouts may prove confusing. Pedestrians should stop on splitter islands and not cross to the roundabout’s center island. Stopping on splitter islands gives pedestrians a chance to focus on one direction of traffic at a time.

Texting while walking creates distractions

Distracted walking may pose risks. The New York Times explains that texting while walking may challenge pedestrians’ decision-making and ability to judge distances between vehicles.

Pedestrians may take steps to minimize phone distractions:

  • By putting their phone in their bag or backpack, they must think twice before texting.
  • They should turn off notifications for apps except necessary apps like those for work.
  • People who wear earpieces should listen to music and other audio at a low volume.

If someone cannot resist their phone, they should stop and stand in a safe place to check messages.


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