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Pressing for greater pedestrian safety in New York City

This past weekend, New York City TV stations aired reports of a hit-and-run accident that left two people injured, including one critically. Law enforcement officials said the two pedestrians were struck by a SUV; a 32-year-old woman sustained minor injuries, but a 27-year-old man was listed in critical condition at a nearby hospital with "serious leg injuries."

The pedestrian accident is just the latest to highlight an ongoing problem in our city.

The SUV apparently pinned the man against a wall. The driver then abandoned his vehicle, fleeing on foot.

The accident sent us back to the New York City Department of Transportation Pedestrian Safety and Action Plan from a few years ago. You might recall that the report noted substantial safety improvements, with traffic fatalities plummeting by 35 percent in the studied years 2001 to 2009. New York's traffic fatality rate was at "less less than half the rate in the next 10 largest U.S. cities." Another comparison also got attention: the rate here is about one quarter of the national fatality rate.

However, there were many somber facts shared as well: pedestrians fare far worse than occupants of motor vehicles when automobiles and humans collide. Pedestrians are 10 times as likely to die in a collision than people inside a car.

More than half of all traffic fatalities from 2005 to 2009 were pedestrians (52 percent). The leading cause of the crashes: driver inattention (36 percent). We expect that with the sharp rise in the use of smartphones since then that distracted drivers make up an even greater proportion of the causes.

In order to protect their rights and interests, pedestrian accident survivors should discuss with a personal injury attorney their legal options before discussing a settlement with an insurer. 

Source: CBS New York, "Man Critical, Woman Injured In East New York Hit-And-Run Crash," Sept. 13, 2014

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