Pedestrian safety in New York City

Walking to and from your destination in New York City is a regular way of life. Whether it’s to work, dinner, the theater or shopping, the walkways are perpetually full of pedestrians. Given the sheer numbers of people, pedestrian safety is a top priority.

Nationally, pedestrian traffic fatalities account for 14% of motor vehicle deaths, but in Manhattan, that number is a staggering 73%. Many of those injured are from boroughs other than Manhattan, so pedestrian safety in Manhattan affects all of us. New York City officials continue to take steps to address the issue of pedestrian safety and make changes to roadways and publicity, but the number of pedestrian fatalities continues to rise.

In response, a city initiative called Vision Zero was established to decrease all New York City traffic fatalities – whether they involve pedestrians, motor vehicles, motorcycles or bicycles. This initiative addresses not just Manhattan but each of New York City’s boroughs to tackle their specific challenges. The five plans pinpoint high-risk areas and suggest actions such as road re-engineering, updates to crosswalks, crossing lights and intersections. An increase in public awareness is also part of the campaign.

Driver responsibility

Many pedestrian accidents are attributed to speeding drivers and drivers failing to yield. To keep everyone safe on the roadways, drivers have a responsibility to follow safe driving practices:

  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and before turning at intersections.
  • Avoid risky driving behaviors like speeding, driving while impaired or distracted driving.
  • Always scan the road for pedestrians
  • Be especially cautious in school zones.

Pedestrian safety tips

To stay safe, pedestrians also need to mindful. Walking while distracted or disobeying traffic laws puts you at risk. Practice defensive walking with the following tips from the New York City Department of Transportation:

  • Be seen by wearing bright clothing and carrying a flashlight.
  • Only walk on the sidewalks. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Cross only at designated, marked crosswalks.
  • Don’t assume drivers will see you or will stop. Make eye contact with the driver and look across all lanes you must cross.
  • Don’t rely on signals alone and look both ways before crossing.
  • Be aware of surrounding noise and avoid wearing headphones.


Pedestrian safety is up to of all of us. If you’re out enjoying the city that never sleeps, follow the rules of the road and proceed with caution.