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5 Safety Tips for Walking as a Pedestrian in NYC

November 20, 2018 in

New York City is incredibly busy virtually all hours of the day and night. The city is notorious for traffic congestion, but there is also an incredible amount of pedestrian traffic in New York City. It’s essential for all New York City pedestrians to keep a few best practices in mind to avoid injuries and accidents.

Stay Alert

NYC residents may be accustomed to navigating busy streets on foot, but complacency can easily lead to a serious injury or accident. It’s important for all pedestrians to pay attention to where they are walking and stay alert for changing conditions.

Avoid Distractions

Cell phones are a common distraction, and some pedestrians may read and write text messages or even watch video content while walking. This is more dangerous than it may sound as there have been numerous reports of pedestrians walking into street signs, lampposts, enclosed bus stops, and even down subway stairs and into open manholes because of cell phone distraction. If you are walking in New York City, stop and move to the side of the sidewalk if you need to read or respond to a text message or use your phone in any way that diverts your eyes away from your walking path.

It’s also wise to avoid wearing headphones while walking, or at least only use them at moderate volumes. Many people may enjoy drowning out the sounds of the bustling city with music, but doing so also limits a person’s ability to hear nearby sounds. Car horns, police sirens, and other noises may go unnoticed by a person wearing headphones, and he or she could suffer severe injuries as a result.

Plan Your Route

If you plan to walk through New York City, it’s wise to know where you are going ahead of time. Plan your walking route and check local updates for accidents, construction, or any other things that may complicate your route. Pedestrians are more likely to suffer injuries when walking through unfamiliar areas.

Use Extra Caution at Night

New York City may be busy almost all the time, but like every other city violent crime rates increase at night. If you are unfamiliar with New York City and need to walk at night, it’s best to only do so in well-lit and heavily traveled areas. Avoid streets with poor lighting. Doing so not only reduces the risk of a surprise attack from a violent criminal but can also help prevent slip and fall injuries from poor visibility.

Violent crime aside, it’s also important to use extra caution while walking at night to avoid other hazards that can cause injuries. It may be harder to spot traffic cones, construction areas, or other hazards in low light. A slip and fall injury on an NYC city street can lead to serious injuries like broken bones or traumatic brain injuries.

Only Cross When Safe to Do So

Pedestrians should only use designated crosswalks to cross intersections. Jaywalking, or crossing a street outside of the crosswalk in the middle of the block, may seem like a victimless offense but it can easily lead to a serious accident. A pedestrian who moves into the street when a passing driver is not expecting to see the pedestrian may walk right in front of the driver who does not have time to stop, resulting in serious injuries.

It’s also important for pedestrians to not only wait for crosswalks to indicate that it is safe to cross, but also check that it is indeed safe to do so. For example, a man about to cross the street is wearing headphones and listening to loud music. He notices the light change to “Walk” but does not hear the police siren coming down the street and steps into the intersection right in front of a police cruiser. This is just one example of how inattention could lead to a catastrophic accident.