Avoiding accidents when you are a pedestrian

February 17, 2010 3:24:19 PM PST
Leonard Gorski ended up in a hospital bed after getting hit by a car at the intersection of Forest and Putnum Avenues in the Ridgewood section of Queens. "I was almost halfway across the street, and I looked to see what was going on and I noticed a car coming in my direction at an incredible racing speed," he explained.

The hit and run accident broke several of Mr. Gorski's ribs, punctured both his lungs and put him in the operating room to fuse some of his damaged spinal bones.

It's a common pedestrian accident seen frequently at Elmhurst, a level one New York State trauma center.

"This problem has been going on the last ten years and it shows no signs of stopping," Dr. Jamie Ullman said.

Factors for injury? Jaywalking may be one, but experts are not sure. Weather does not appear to be a factor, nor does cell phone use or texting.

Cars turning corners are a hazard.

"Most of pedestrians are struck at the points where cars are turning and the pedestrians are trying to cross the street," Anju Galer said.

Crossing with care is how kids are trained in school. Seniors learn it in lecture groups. The 24-64 age group has the most accidents. They learned how to avoid them a long time ago.

What's the most important thing to do before crossing the street? It's what your mother said. Look left and look right.

That's right. Look both ways, especially at corners where cars may be turning. Your mother also warned against jaywalking, which has extra risks.

Mr. Gorski also has some good advice.

"Less rush. Take it slow. Take it easy," he said.

Dr. Ullman says safety is the responsibility of both pedestrians and drivers.

"I think what is important is that we all have to focus on what's going on out there, because at this point, I don't think the streets are that safe," Ullman said.

The doctor adds that many accidents happen when someone is walking with the light, with the right of way. So be sure to use your peripheral vision to see trouble coming out of the corner of your eyes.