New York City can feel like an obstacle course at times, especially if you’re visiting with kids or raising kids there.
You’re constantly walking around construction and under scaffolding, there’s traffic everywhere, and the sidewalks are frequently packed with people.
As a pedestrian and especially with kids, you have to be mindful at all times. Letting your guard down in a city like New York can mean the difference between life and death.
With that in mind, the following are five important safety tips for pedestrians in New York City or any big city.
1. Be Especially Careful At Intersections
New York City recently announced an investment in pedestrian safety for intersections. According to the announcement, intersections are the leading site of injuries and deaths of pedestrians.
The DOT in New York City announced they’re going to make design improvements to 1000 intersections to improve safety. Updates will include better traffic signals, raised crosswalks, and other measures to improve pedestrian visibility.
When you’re at an intersection, you need to look in every direction for vehicles. You need to assume that a driver is going to run a red light. You should make sure that you look around before stepping into the road, even if the walk signal or green light appears.
Make sure that approaching drivers see you.
If there’s no traffic control signal, a driver is supposed to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, especially if there’s a crosswalk.
2. Walk Safely
When you’re walking, you always have to follow the general rules of the road. You need to obey signs and signals just like drivers, and if a sidewalk is available, use it.
If there isn’t a sidewalk, you should walk as far from traffic as you can, facing the traffic.
Make sure you’re crossing streets at crosswalks and intersections, and if one isn’t available, choose an area that’s well-lit and provides a good view of the traffic.
3. Teaching Kids to Walk Safely
From an early age, you should teach your kids to look left, right, and then left once again before they cross the street. You should teach kids to make eye contact with drivers before they cross the street. If your child is younger than 10, they need to always cross only with an adult.
While every kid is developmentally unique, most aren’t able to judge the speed or distance of an approaching car until they’re at least 10.
Your kids should be alert and watching for cars that are backing up or turning, and it’s critical that your kids learn how to run out into the street.
4. Don’t Be a Distracted Pedestrian
Just like it’s dangerous to drive while you’re distracted, the same is true if you’re a pedestrian.
Both you and your kids should put your phones, devices, and headphones away when you’re crossing a street. This message can become especially important for teens.
Headphones should be off, or the volume should be all the way down before attempting to cross a street.
It’s important to be aware of other people who are walking and may be distracted, and your kids should learn that if they need to use a device or phone as a pedestrian, they should step aside and find a safe place to do so.
Using drugs and alcohol is something that, as an adult, you should avoid if you’re a pedestrian, and you should teach teens to do the same.
We often don’t realize the level of impairment that can come from the use of drugs and alcohol, even when we’re walking. This can hold true for over-the-counter medicines and prescription drugs as well.
5. See and Be Seen
It’s up to drivers to always expect that pedestrians are going to be in their path, but unfortunately, they don’t always do so.
As a pedestrian, wear light-colored clothing. If you’re out and about at night, you can add reflective material to your clothes. Again, don’t assume a driver sees you. Establish eye contact with drivers, and wave if necessary to see if they acknowledge you.
If there aren’t any crosswalks, signals, or signs, as a pedestrian, you have to yield the right-of-way.
Finally, pedestrians aren’t allowed on interstates or expressways.
Teaching your kids good pedestrian habits relies not only on telling them the right things to do but also on showing them by example. Always model the pedestrian behaviors you want to see in your child and avoid doing anything that could put you at risk as a pedestrian in the city.