Walking signal at a New Jersey crosswalk.

As we all continue to social distance and spend more time at home, walking around the neighborhood has become a popular activity. The experts say strutting your stuff down the sidewalk or in the park is good for both your mental and physical health during these trying times, but we would urge all of our friends in the Hackensack area to take special care while they are out and about. As personal injury attorneys, we have seen far too many cases of local pedestrians severely injured or killed by careless drivers. 

Why are pedestrian accidents so common in New Jersey?

New Jersey experiences a disproportionate number of pedestrian injury crashes and fatalities compared to the nation as a whole. To combat the problem, the state’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety urges pedestrians to take the following precautions: 

  • Look left, right and left again before crossing. Watch for turning cars.
  • Always walk facing traffic.
  • Obey traffic signals, especially “Walk/Don’t Walk.”
  • Remain alert! Don’t assume that cars are going to stop.
  • Wear reflective clothing when walking at night.
  • Stay sober. Walking while impaired greatly increases your chances of being struck.
  • Always cross at corners, within marked crosswalks where available.

This note on using crosswalks is particularly important. Earlier this year, a pedestrian here in Hackensack was critically injured outside the ShopRite shopping plaza on South River Street after trying to cross four lanes of traffic. He was then cited by police for failure to use a crosswalk

However, the burden of staying safe does not fall solely on the shoulders of pedestrians. After yet another accident involving a pedestrian trying to cross a street, Captain Nicole Foley, commanding officer of the Hackensack Police Traffic Bureau, stressed how important it is for drivers to be aware of pedestrians at all times. “Familiarize yourself with the law… any intersection, whether marked or not, is considered a crosswalk and pedestrians have the right of way. This driver was simply driving straight through with no apparent traffic control device like we do hundreds of times a day. He probably wasn’t aware of the law, and therefore didn’t expect there to be a person in the middle of the road. He would not be in the minority as far as not being aware of this. It is also imperative that drivers are not distracted and are always paying attention to the road, and looking ahead as to anticipate any situation that may occur, so they have ample time to react.”

Tips for Drivers

In addition, the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety urges drivers to: 

  • Watch for pedestrians when turning right on red.
  • Obey speed limits.
  • Do not block or park in crosswalks.
  • Keep your windshield clean for maximum visibility.

These tips for both pedestrians and drivers are actually a fairly accurate summary of the sort of evidence we look for when we are contacted by a potential client who was injured in a pedestrian-car accident. It is important to pinpoint the location of the accident, and investigate the circumstances that caused the accident to make the strongest argument possible on behalf of our client. This should not, however, discourage you from contacting our office if you think the accident was your fault, or you don’t remember anything about the accident you were involved in. The Levin & Malkin team will help you assess your case and figure out if filing a claim is the right move. 

Posted in: Pedestrian Accidents