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4 visibility issues that can cause pedestrian accidents

Pedestrian accidents often involve some element of a visibility issue. Parties commonly claim they didn’t or couldn’t see others. In this post, we list some common visibility issues that put New Yorkers in danger and who – if anyone – may be responsible if they contribute to a pedestrian accident.

Drivers making left turns

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about 1 in 5 accidents at intersections with signals involve a car hitting a pedestrian. Left-turning traffic can pose an especially high risk to pedestrians for many reasons:

  • Drivers are typically focused on watching oncoming traffic and the traffic signal instead of pedestrians
  • Drivers’ failure to detect pedestrians in their peripheral vision
  • Turning drivers often look more to their right than their left
  • Left-turning drivers tend to perform a visual search to their right last before they turn

In many of these situations, a driver could be the negligent party liable for an accident. 

Dark or foggy conditions

It can be incredibly difficult to see pedestrians when weather conditions reduce visibility. Pedestrians would be wise to wear bright reflective clothing and stay on sidewalks or marked crosswalks whenever possible.

Distracted drivers and pedestrians

Road users who aren’t paying attention to the road put themselves and others at risk. When a driver is distracted, they may not see people cross the street in front of them, or they could drift out of their lane, putting people on the side of the road in danger.

When pedestrians are distracted, they might cross the road when it’s not clear or stumble into the street. 

Visual obstacles

Trees, buildings, large vehicles and other objects can conceal people and cars. Thus, cars may not see pedestrians as they exit a parking lot or pull out at an intersection. And pedestrians crossing the street may not be able to see a car approaching if a bus or truck is blocking their view. 

Holding parties accountable

People who fail to take steps to avoid an accident can be negligent and liable for damages caused by a crash. In many pedestrian accidents, negligence stems from someone who did not take precautions to account for these visibility issues.


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