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Why is Nighttime The Most Dangerous Time to be a Pedestrian in the Hudson Valley?

This week, the New York Times put out a provocative article titled Why Are So Many American Pedestrians Dying at Night?

The report finds that pedestrian deaths in the United States have almost doubled since 2010, and most of the increase can be attributed to a spike in the number of pedestrians dying at night; of the 7,300 pedestrians who were killed in 2021, three out of four were between sunrise and sunset.

Stories on this alarming national trend have been written fairly regularly, but it isn’t happening locally. Earlier this year we found that across the Mid-Hudson Valley of Dutchess County, Orange County, and Ulster County, pedestrian deaths have solidly dropped anywhere from 15-50% since 2011.

What are the most common circumstances of pedestrian accidents?

The most common circumstances we see are:

  • A pedestrian crosses in an area with no signal or crosswalk
  • A pedestrian crosses against the signal
  • The driver of the vehicle fails to see a pedestrian who is crossing in a crosswalk
  • The vehicle or car is not on the roadway
  • The pedestrian is working on the roadway
  • The pedestrian emerges from in front of or behind a parked vehicle
  • A pedestrian is getting out of a vehicle

In all of these circumstances, even if the pedestrian is “not supposed to be there,” it is still possible that the driver of the vehicle failed in their duty to pay attention. It is also possible that the municipality or highway authority failed in their duty to create and maintain a safe environment for the pedestrian.

When do most local pedestrian accidents happen?

According to the NY Times analysis, the deadliest time is right at sunset, when the conditions abruptly go from bright to dark. Here are the national numbers:

Locally, things are are largely the same. Most Mid-Hudson Valley pedestrian crashes happen in the late afternoon or evening, according to New York State’s Traffic Safety Statistical Repository:

TimeNumber of Pedestrian Crashes in Dutchess or Ulster County (2022)
12 – 3 AM5
3 – 6 AM3
6 – 9 AM11
9 AM – Noon13
12 – 3 PM22
3 – 6 PM 27
6 – 9 PM20
9 PM – 1217

Why do most Hudson Valley pedestrian crashes happen at night?

The New York Times surmised a number of possible reasons, none of which completely explain this trend:

  • Pedestrians are harder to see at night
  • Pedestrian outerwear tends to be dark
  • American roads weren’t designed for people to be walking at night
  • Since 2010, the adoption of smartphones in the vehicle has increased
  • Vehicles overwhelmingly have shifted from manual to automatic transmission, giving drivers a free hand to become distracted with
  • Drivers may be coordinating social activities and managing after-work messages and tasks on their phones at night
  • The trend toward heavier vehicles makes for longer brake times and more serious collisons
  • The rise of homelessness has put more vulnerable people on the street at night

How could the victim of a pedestrian-vehicle crash receive compensation for their injuries and resulting losses?

If you, or a loved one, has been injured as a pedestrian in a crash with a vehicle, we can help. We are a Hudson Valley-based personal injury law firm with locations in Kingston, NY and Poughkeepsie, NY. Schedule a free consultation with our legal team, and we’ll help you navigate your options for receiving the maximum possible compensation for your injuries, including via:

  • No-fault insurance, also known as “personal injury protection” insurance, is provided by the insurance of the vehicle involved in a vehicle-on-pedestrian collision. This coverage is available to you, even if the accident was entirely your fault. It includes a $50,000 limit to cover all your medical expenses and lost income.
  • Additional Personal Injury Protection Insurance: If you’ve purchased this optional coverage as part of your own vehicle insurance policy, it can provide an extra $50,000 on top of the standard $50,000 in no-fault coverage.
  • Bodily Injury insurance, also referred to as liability insurance, is part of the at-fault vehicle’s insurance. It compensates you for pain and suffering, as well as any medical expenses and lost income not covered by no-fault insurance. In New York, the minimum coverage required is $25,000 per person injured and $50,000 per accident.
  • Uninsured Motorist insurance: When the at-fault vehicle has a low policy limit (e.g., $25,000), and your own policy has higher limits (e.g., $100,000), your insurance can provide the additional coverage. In the given example, the at-fault vehicle’s insurance pays its $25,000 policy limit, and then you can claim an additional $75,000 from your own insurance, bringing the total coverage to $100,000.
  • Underinsured Motorist insurance: If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident or the vehicle that struck you was uninsured, your own insurance policy for bodily injury protection will provide coverage based on the limits you have chosen.
  • MVAIC (Motor Vehicle Accident Insurance Corporation) insurance: If you don’t own a vehicle and no relative you live with does, and you are involved in a hit-and-run or uninsured vehicle accident, you can file a claim for no-fault benefits ($50,000) and bodily injury coverage ($25,000) through MVAIC.