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Understanding New York Pedestrian Law, Staying Safe

Though we live in a driving-oriented society, some folks prefer walking over driving, for exercise or for their commute to work. Many areas in the state of New York (like Schnectady County) are great places to do that.

But a driving-oriented society can be a dangerous place for pedestrians.

It helps to follow New York state laws regulating right-of-way and other behavior, so that both drivers and pedestrians can get home safely and avoid traffic offenses. To help with this, we’ve written up a brief primer on New York State laws related to drivers and pedestrians.

Basic New York Pedestrian Law

  • Pedestrians must obey all traffic control signals, signs, and pavement markings when crossing a street.
  • Pedestrians are not allowed on expressways or interstates.
  • When there is no traffic control signal, drivers must yield right-of-way to pedestrians. This is particularly the case when there is a crosswalk.
  • Every driver approaching an intersection or crosswalk must yield right-of-way to a pedestrian using a cane or accompanied by a guide dog.
  • If in the middle of the block and there is no crosswalk, sign, or signal, pedestrians must yield right-of-way to all vehicles.
  • When a pedestrian is on a sidewalk, a vehicle entering or exiting from an alley, building, driveway, or private road/driveway must yield right-of-way.
  • If a road has a sidewalk that is safe to use, pedestrians are required to use it. If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians are required to walk on the left side of the roadway, facing traffic.

Safety Tips For Drivers

According to the New York City Department of Transportation:

  • When turning, look for both traffic and pedestrians. Always yield to pedestrians.
  • Be especially alert for children darting into traffic in areas where children play or walk to school.
  • Stop before you reach the crosswalk, not in it. Give pedestrians extra space.

Safety Tips For Pedestrians

  • A vehicle traveling 30 mph may need as much as 125 feet to come to a complete stop, so don’t dart into the street.
  • Be particularly careful crossing streets in poor weather, because drivers will need more time to stop.
  • Look in all directions before you cross, even if you’re crossing with a green light or walk signal.

There are a few other considerations pedestrians should keep in mind.

For example, state law notes that a pedestrian may not cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless there’s a specific traffic control device allowing for such a crossing.

Pedestrians should also walk on the right side of the crosswalk whenever possible.

And drivers should keep all of the above issues in mind to avoid traffic violations and other problems.

Ultimately, it’s important for both pedestrians and drivers to do everything possible to avoid an accident that can lead to injury or even death. Anyone dealing with legal issues as a result of a traffic infraction should be aware of one’s full rights in a court of law.

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