Confronting 11 pedestrian deaths this month, NYC’s new mayor talks traffic safety

January 23, 2014

Days after a weekend which saw four pedestrian traffic deaths, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his administration’s plan to reduce New Yorker traffic deaths to zero over the next 10 years. “The goal is literally to reduce fatalities on our roadways to zero. That is our singular focus,” he said, according to WNYC. De Blasio delivered the announcement at a Queens public school near the intersection where an eight-year-old boy, Noshat Nahian, was killed in December by a truck, reported the New York Times.

New York traffic

From hunterrrr.

The administration’s zero-tolerance policy for traffic deaths is based on a program called Vision Zero, out of Sweden. Vision Zero, founded on the premise that “eventually no one will be killed or seriously injured within the road transport system,” considers traffic deaths to be preventable with the assistance of speed limits and street modifications. In addition to announcing the zero-death goal, de Blasio noted that more drivers would be ticketed based on city speed camera readings (in the past speeding drivers just received warnings).

Police commissioner William J. Bratton appeared with de Blasio, announcing that the NYPD was growing its Highway Division from approximately 220 to 270 officers, and noting that precinct commanders have been ordered to provide pedestrian safety plans. According to the Times, Bratton “promised to beef up investigations of serious crashes to bolster potential prosecutions, which in the absence of drugs or alcohol can be difficult to pursue.”

Bratton also shared a compelling statistic: “Last year, pedestrian error — and I point this out — pedestrian error contributed to 73 percent of collisions,” he said. “So while a lot of our focus is on drivers and speed, we also need to work more comprehensively on pedestrian education.” To that end, police have also begun targeting — and ticketing — jaywalkers.

Prior to de Blasio’s stepping into office earlier this month, the NYPD started running more in-depth analyses of crashes leading to critical injuries, and installed 20 speed cameras in school speed zones last year. But there have been nearly a dozen pedestrian deaths in New York City since the start of this year, according to multiple news reports. (The NYPD collects traffic data, but the most recent available is for November 2013).

This past Sunday, a 45-year-old man was hit by a city bus, and pronounced dead at the hospital; a 26-year-old medical student was struck by the driver’s side mirror of a passing ambulance before falling and being hit again by another vehicle. She died at the scene. Also this month, a nine-year-old crossing the street with his father was hit and killed by a cab.

The rate of pedestrian deaths thus far this year is disconcerting. The Daily News analyzed police reports, finding that, if the pace set in the first 12 days of 2014 (which saw seven pedestrian deaths of the total 11 so far) continues, “there could be more than 200 such deaths by the end of the year. Police data shows there were 156 fatalities in 2013, an increase from 152 in 2012 and 142 in 2011.”

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Category: Road safety, Trends

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