Glossary: Driveway

William Mattar Glossary
Posted: September 17, 2022


Under New York law, a driveway is defined as “every entrance or exit used by vehicular traffic to or from lands or buildings abutting a highway.” 

While some may believe that a driveway only leads to a residence, the legal definition is more expansive. Based on the definition in the Vehicle and Traffic Law, New York considers an entrance to a parking lot to be every bit as much a “driveway” as the strip of pavement leading to a neighbor’s garage. 

Furthermore, while the definition refers to driveways only as “abutting a highway,” New York law defines “highway” broadly as “the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.” 

Examples of Driveways 

Here are examples of what could possibly be considered a “driveway” :  

  • An entrance to a drive-through restaurant  
  • An entrance to a small parking lot to a park or hiking trail  
  • An exit from a parking garage  
  • An exit from an apartment complex  
  • A conventional “driveway” leading to a garage or carport at a house 

Why is it Important to Know the Definition of a “Driveway”?  

Some accidents involving cars and pedestrians occur in or near driveways. In New York, pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks that cross driveways, and so it is generally a driver’s responsibility to make sure the driveway is clear before backing or pulling out into the road. That means if a driver hits a pedestrian while backing or pulling out of a driveway, the driver is usually responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries.   

The lawyers at William Mattar, P.C. can represent pedestrians who have been injured in backover accidents involving driveways.  In many of these cases, knowing what is considered a driveway and the legal definition of a driveway can help when determining who is at fault for the accident.  

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