Where Do Most Pedestrian Accidents Happen?

Pedestrian accidents occur every day. There were an estimated 9,188 pedestrian deaths in vehicular accidents in 2022. Additionally, the CDC recorded 104,000 emergency department visits of pedestrians in non-fatal accidents in 2021. They are more prevalent in urban areas, such as Manhattan, and can cause serious injuries. 

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Pedestrian Accident Facts

A quick look at pedestrian accident facts provides insight into the prevalence, patterns, and consequences of these occurrences. 

  • Pedestrian accidents are most likely to occur in densely traveled urban areas
  • Fatalities are more common when vehicles are traveling at high speeds, such as on roadways with speed limits over 30 MPH
  • According to the CDC, pedestrians made up more than 15% of traffic fatalities in 2021
  • Pedestrian fatalities are increasing faster than all other traffic-related deaths
  • New York has a pedestrian fatality rate of 1.48 per 100,000 population, placing it 34th in the nation
  • Pedestrian accidents with serious injuries or fatalities are more than four times more likely in Manhattan compared to New York City’s other four boroughs

These facts highlight how some of Manhattan’s unique features and characteristics contribute to the high rate of pedestrian accidents and injuries. 

Pedestrian Accident Patterns in Manhattan

Manhattan sees a large percentage of the city’s pedestrian accidents. That is partly due to combined high foot and vehicle traffic on the borough’s streets. However, the following specific conditions also contribute to pedestrian risk in Manhattan. 

Busy Intersections

According to data provided by Replica, Midtown and Lower Manhattan along with a few corridors that lead to those areas are among the busiest intersections in the city. This is likely not surprising to anyone who has experienced these areas firsthand. However, despite a large volume of traffic and accidents, these intersections do not make up a large portion of serious pedestrian injuries in Manhattan.

Areas With Pedestrian Congestion

Most people consider Manhattan foot traffic friendly. Many residents walk or take republic transportation for daily travel. Others commute to the borough and then walk the final leg to their destinations. Tourists also make up a large portion of pedestrian traffic, and Manhattan offers plenty for them to see and do. 

The abundance of pedestrians creates congestion on sidewalks and at intersections. This contributes to an increased rate of accidents between people, cars, and bicycles.

Residential Areas

Manhattan’s residential areas, including the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and Harlem, have many hidden hazards that contribute to increased pedestrian accidents. These include:

  • Increased foot traffic around housing
  • Narrow streets with limited parking
  • Playgrounds and schools with high numbers of children and numerous distractions

Additionally, people may be more likely to walk with distractions including earbuds and phones, while near their homes. These are known contributing factors to pedestrian accidents. 

Factors That Contribute to Pedestrian Accidents

Certain factors create favorable conditions for accidents between vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research lists the top three contributing factors for New York pedestrian accidents as Driver inattention or distraction (32%), failure to yield the right of way (31%), and pedestrian or bicyclist error (21%). 

These can not only affect the rate of accidents, but they can also increase the likelihood of injuries occurring in those crashes. They are also only part of the equation, and many other factors can contribute to an accident occurring. 


Distracted driving caused 13% of all reported car accidents in 2021. It resulted in 362,415 injuries and 3,522 deaths. Of those deaths, 644 involved nonoccupants including pedestrians and cyclists. Individuals can also become distracted while walking, which increases the chances they step out into traffic or enter an intersection with a “do not walk” sign. 

Alcohol and Drugs

Impairment from drugs or alcohol is a serious concern for all traffic accidents, contributing to 38% of all New York traffic fatalities. It can affect the decision-making abilities of both drivers and pedestrians, creating an atmosphere where accidents are more likely to occur. 

Alcohol contributes to between 3% and 4% of all pedestrian accidents that cause injury or death in New York. However, it is important to understand that there are no requirements to test the blood alcohol level of pedestrians involved in a crash. 

Factors That Affect Pedestrian Accident Outcomes

Pedestrians are significantly more likely than vehicle occupants to suffer serious injuries in an accident. The severity of injuries typically increases with greater speeds and larger vehicles, such as trucks, SUVs, and vans. Consider these additional factors that can affect pedestrian accident outcomes. 


Like other city residents, many older adults in New York City walk as a primary means of transportation. In certain areas of the city, they make up a large percentage of the foot traffic. However, individuals over the age of 55 are at a much higher risk of death or serious injury resulting from being struck by a vehicle. 

Poverty Level

Socioeconomic status and neighborhood demographics also play a role in outcomes. For example, pedestrian accident fatalities are more likely in neighborhoods with high poverty levels compared to wealthy ones. There are several reasons this could be the case, such as greater pedestrian density and higher rates of mixed-use (residential and commercial) streets. 

Roadway Type

Roadways serving mixed-use areas, such as those with residential housing and retail spaces, have a greater number of pedestrian accidents compared with roads serving only one primary type of traffic. These roads tend to have more complex patterns which can increase driver and pedestrian confusion. They also tend to have a large amount of foot traffic moving in and out of roadways. Additionally, roads with higher speed limits, or those where drivers routinely exceed the posted speed limit, pose a greater risk of injuries for pedestrians. 

Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries

Pedestrians are likely to suffer injuries when struck by a motor vehicle. These can range from minor to life threatening. There is also a significant risk of death from pedestrian accidents. Some of the most prevalent injuries in this type of accident include the following:

  • Brain injuries: The impact of a vehicle striking an unprotected pedestrian can cause traumatic brain injuries including bleeding and a concussion. These require immediate medical attention and may cause lasting effects. 
  • Fractured bones: Fractures are a common result of pedestrian accidents. They frequently affect bones in the arms, legs, ribs, and pelvis.
  • Internal bleeding: Internal bleeding results from trauma to organs and soft tissue. It manifests with symptoms that include swelling, nausea, and breathing changes. You should consider this a serious medical emergency requiring immediate care. 
  • Neck and spine injuries: Injury to the neck or spine, including broken vertebra and herniated or crushed discs, can lead to damage to the spinal cord. This may result in pain, limited mobility, or paralysis. In extreme cases, a spine injury can cause death. 
  • Soft tissue damage: Sprains, strains, torn ligaments, and tendon damage are all types of soft tissue injuries that can result from a pedestrian accident. 

You should seek medical care as soon as possible after an accident. Some injuries may not present symptoms immediately, and shock can mask the symptoms of others. A medical evaluation is the simplest and safest way to establish what injuries you incurred. 

Legal Support for Pedestrian Accidents

Our attorneys at Cellino Law work with accident victims to seek compensation for injuries. Contact us if you or a loved one suffered an injury in a pedestrian accident. We will review your case and provide tailored advice based on your situation. Schedule a free case review today.



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