Responsibilities of NYC Drivers to Yield to Pedestrians
Though failure to yield tickets are enforced through several different rules and statutes, they all have the same essential guidelines for vehicles:
- Vehicles must yield to all pedestrians at marked crosswalks where pedestrians receive the WALK signal.
- When there are no traffic signals in place, cars must still yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.
- All intersections can count as unmarked crosswalks, meaning vehicles must yield to pedestrians crossing.
- Pedestrians can’t suddenly jump or run out from the sidewalk into the crosswalk in a manner which doesn’t give the driver a chance to yield.
- If you are approaching an intersection and see another car stopped at a crosswalk in the process of yielding to a pedestrian, do not pass this vehicle.
- Basically, pedestrians will always have the right of way at an intersection, marked crosswalk or not, except when facing do not walk signals. Elsewhere on the road, vehicles have the right of way.
Other Important things to note here:
- Certain laws address situations where traffic control signals are not in place. When they are in place, there will likely be walk/don’t walk pedestrian signals that change in conjunction with the vehicular traffic control signals. Even when you are facing a green signal, you must yield to pedestrians who are likely facing a “walk” signal at the same time. NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) §1112 sets forth that pedestrians facing a “walk” signal must be given the right of way by other traffic.
- These sections of law address situations where the pedestrian is walking within a marked crosswalk. Pedestrians also have the right of way within “unmarked crosswalks” at intersections according to VTL §1152. It’s crossing in the middle of a block, not at an intersection or within a crosswalk, where pedestrians need to yield to vehicles.
- Most moving violations in NY involving drivers who fail to yield the right of way are three (3) points on your NY drivers license. The exception would be those written under the NYC Administrative Code, but these are a very very small percentage of cases.
- You may face fines and penalties and be charged with a misdemeanor crime if you hurt a pedestrian, kill a pedestrian, and/or flee the scene of the accident, pursuant to §19–190 of the NYC Administrative Code.
Penalties for an NYC Failure to Yield to Pedestrian Ticket
Because there are so many different laws that can apply, it may be difficult to predict the exact fines and other penalties you may face unless you know the specific charges. Review your failure to yield to pedestrian ticket to see if your charges relate to a specific law, rule, or statute. Violations connected to NYS VTL §1112 can carry the following penalties:
- Up to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for up to 15 days
- Injured pedestrians: Up to $750 fine, motor vehicle accident safety course, and/or up to 15 days in jail
- Second injured pedestrian violation within five years: Up to $1000 fine plus other penalties
Violations related to §19–190 of the NYC Administrative Code can carry the following penalties:
- No injury: Up to $100 fine
- Injury: Up to $250 fine
- Fleeing the scene:
- Up to $500 fine for property damage
- Between $1000 – $2000 for pedestrian injury
- Between $2000 – $10,000 for a serious pedestrian injury
- Between $5000 – $10,000 for a pedestrian death
Pedestrian Responsibilities When Crossing
In the state of New York, a “pedestrian” is a person moving from place to place on their feet. A pedestrian may be walking, running or jogging on the sidewalk or roadway. According to state law, pedestrians:
- Are subject to traffic regulations. This means that pedestrians must follow all traffic control devices that apply to them just as if they were driving a car.
- Have the right of way in crosswalks. If a traffic control signal is not in place at a marked crosswalk, the driver of a vehicle is expected to yield the right of way to a pedestrian. If the pedestrian is crossing the roadway in a provided pedestrian tunnel or overpass, the pedestrian must yield the right of way to all vehicles.
- Pedestrians, even at crosswalks, are not permitted to leave the curb in such a quick manner that a vehicle is unable to stop. A pedestrian does have the right away when crossing over a sidewalk in front of a building entrance, driveway, building entrance or alleyway.
- Crossing at areas other than crosswalks is permitted, however a pedestrian must yield the right of way to vehicles. This is assuming that no crosswalk is nearby. Pedestrians are also not permitted to cross a road on the diagonal. Any person walking or jogging is also prohibited from using the roadway where sidewalks are provided. Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians should walk on the left side of the roadway, facing traffic. Pedestrians should move as far to the shoulder as they are able when a vehicle approaches.
The central goal of enforcing pedestrian and driver responsibilities is to reduce accidents and make traffic situations safer for everyone. Regardless of the letter of the law, drivers, pedestrians, officers, traffic attorneys and traffic court judges should all be on the same page about this. Even still, there may be situations where laws are enforced inappropriately or in response to flawed judgement/information. In these situations, it may be in your best interest to work with a NYC traffic ticket lawyer who can help you build a defense and seek the most optimal outcome for your case.
How Often Do Pedestrian Accidents Occur in New York?
Pedestrian accidents are relatively rare in New York, but those that do occur are more likely to lead to injuries and deaths than the typical crash would. According to 2018 statistics from the New York DMV’s Traffic Safety Statistical Repository (TSSR), just 3.6% of all accidents in the state involved a pedestrian. However, pedestrian injury crashes made up 12.4% of all injury crashes as a whole. Pedestrians are unprotected and thus of course Injuries are highly likely after an accident involving a pedestrian in New York, with an injury rate of 97.3 percent. Fortunately, fatal pedestrian accidents are relatively rare, with just 1.7% of pedestrian crashes leading to a fatality. TSSR data specific to the counties representing NYC’s Five Boroughs shows that 11,036 pedestrian accidents occured in 2018. Detailed statistics can be found below.
|2018 Pedestrian Accident Data for NYC’s Five Boroughs|
|COUNTY||Total Pedestrian Crashes||Injuries||Deaths||Property Damage Only|
|New York (Manhattan)||2472||2430||18||24|
|Richmond (Staten Island)||376||370||4||2|
Defenses for a Failure to Yield to Pedestrian Ticket
If a driver wants to argue that they are innocent of their charges, the burden of proof is on them. They will need evidence that the situation did not constitute a violation or did not warrant a citation because there was no legitimate danger posed to pedestrians. Common arguments for defendants include:
- The pedestrian exited the curb when the driver did not have a chance to react
- There was a pedestrian tunnel or overpass available that the pedestrian did not use
- The pedestrian crossed improperly in the middle of the road outside of a marked or unmarked crosswalk
- The pedestrian crossed an intersection diagonally
- Physical obstructions and/or a lack of crossing signals made it impossible for the driver to see the pedestrian
- The pedestrian was not actually in the crosswalk or had not left the curb at the moment the vehicle passed near them
Generally speaking, issuing a failure to yield to pedestrian ticket is a judgment call by the officer who observed the supposed violation. They will need to ask themselves questions like: How fast is the vehicle going? How quickly is the pedestrian moving? How big is the intersection? What is the distance between pedestrian and vehicle? was there some eye contact or physical gesture exchanged between motorist and pedestrian? All of these judgements arguably come into play. An officer will typically only have to explain their reasoning if specific aspects of the event are in dispute. Defendants can request a hearing to dispute their charges with the officer present. They should be prepared to provide evidence, or else it comes down to your word against a police officer’s. Judges typically side with the officer in these situations. Fortunately, Feifer & Greenberg has experience representing clients accused of failure to yield to pedestrians. We have presented strong evidence, including dashcam videos, demonstrating that the pedestrian was being wreckless or that the officer’s recollection of events was flawed. While these defenses are available, you should always be cautious around pedestrians to prevent future tickets because you (a) hopefully don’t want to hit anyone and (b) don’t know how aggressively an officer may enforce these laws. So just be extremely cautious, and always err on the side of deferring to pedestrians.
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