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New York Safety for Blind Pedestrians

Walking stick touching ground in a crosswalk

Making Crosswalks Safer for Blind Pedestrians in New York City to Avoid Motor Vehicle Accidents

Pedestrian vehicle accidents are already a problem in New York City for residents and visitors on foot who do not have any type of vision impairment. For blind pedestrians and others who are visually impaired, crosswalk safety in the city is an even bigger issue, according to a recent article in The New York Times. A number of blind and visually impaired pedestrians in the city argue that New York is “violating the rights of the visually impaired by failing to update most of the city’s crosswalks with accessible pedestrian signals that use vibrating surfaces, noises, and other vocal cues as a safety guide.”

As one visually impaired pedestrian explained, he attempted to cross the street at a crosswalk on the Upper East Side, believing he had a signal telling him that it was safe to cross the street. If it were not for his guide dog, he would have crossed and could have been struck by an oncoming vehicle in a pedestrian motor vehicle accident. Of all the traffic signals throughout the boroughs in New York, only 317 are currently accessible. Over the last several years, the city has added only about 75 accessible pedestrian signals per year, which is far too few for the number of visually impaired pedestrians who rely on walking as a means of transportation. If you have been injured in an accident while on foot, contact a pedestrian accident attorney immediately to discuss your case.

The pedestrians who have filed a lawsuit against the city want New York City to install more accessible pedestrian signals throughout Manhattan “so visually impaired pedestrians can move around the city with the same sense of safety sighted people have.” Since 2000, many crosswalk signals in New York have been replaced. For the most part, the replacements involved exchanging older signals for LED ones that feature “the familiar white walking man sign and the Portland orange hand that warns pedestrians to stop.” In more recent years, the city has been replacing signals with “countdown clock signals” so that pedestrians know how much time they have to safely cross the street and avoid a pedestrian motor vehicle accident. There are about 7,500 intersections in the city that feature the countdown clock signals.

Pedestrian Safety Tips for Avoiding a Vehicle Accident

There are currently almost 200,000 New Yorkers who suffer some form of visual impairment and need accessible pedestrian signals to walk safely in the city. As many of these pedestrians argue, installing such crosswalk signals is the only way to reach the goal of New York’s “Vision Zero” plan, which aims to see no pedestrian deaths in the city. Until the city replaces more pedestrian signals with safer ones, what steps can all pedestrians take to reduce the risk in NY of a pedestrian motor vehicle accident?

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recommends the following:

  • Always wear light-colored or bright-colored clothes;
  • Only walk in areas that are well lit;
  • Do not talk on a cell phone while you are walking;
  • Do not listen to music on headphones while you are walking;
  • Be aware of traffic rules and regulations;
  • Cross only in crosswalks when they are available;
  • Walk on sidewalks wherever they are available;
  • If you must walk in the road, walk on the far side of the road facing traffic;
  • Never walk on a highway or another type of road where pedestrians are prohibited; and
  • Never drink alcohol before walking.

If you were injured in a collision with a motor vehicle, you should speak with a pedestrian accident attorney about your options.

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