NYC marks 5th straight year of declining traffic deaths
- New York City saw just 200 traffic fatalities in 2018, the lowest level since record-keeping began in 1910, according to preliminary data reported by The New York Times. It also marks the city’s fifth consecutive year with declining fatalities.
- Mayor Bill de Blasio is touting the reductions as a victory in the city’s Vision Zero plan, which involved lowering speed limits, redesigning streets and upping enforcement of traffic laws.
- According to preliminary data, bicyclist deaths dropped from 24 in 2017 to 10 last year, while motor vehicle deaths went from 58 down to 37. However, the number of pedestrians killed in traffic increased from 106 to 111 and de Blasio said that the deaths of 12 pedestrians in December were a "sober reminder that this new milestone is less a cause for celebration than a reminder that even with this year’s success, we have much more to do to meet our ambitious goal."
Since its inception in 2014, New York’s Vision Zero program has seen a 34% reduction in traffic deaths (there were 299 fatalities in 2013) as part of de Blasio’s goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024. The increased attention on traffic safety has lead to measures like bollard installation and sidewalk expansions to protect pedestrians, increased enforcement during dangerous dusk and dawn hours and limits on driving in certain areas of the city. After state lawmakers did not reauthorize speed cameras posted in school zones despite evidence of reduced speeding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson restored funding.
To better protect pedestrians, de Blasio told the Times that the city would continue to explore street design and would tighten enforcement of yielding laws, saying "drivers haven’t taken their responsibility to yield very seriously."
A major focus for the city has been on bicycle safety. More than 250 miles of dedicated cycling space have been installed since the start of Vision Zero, including the installation of more than 20 miles of protected bike lanes in 2018. The city also released a report last year on intersection design to protect bicyclists. The policy measures resulted in a record-low 10 bicycle fatalities in 2018 (down from a previous record low of 12), even as biking has become more popular.
Early estimates predict that the U.S. is likely to see a slight decline in traffic deaths in 2018 compared to 2017, but that comes after a sharp two-year increase. Statistics from the National Safety Council found that the U.S. was likely to see its third straight year with 40,000 or more traffic fatalities based on data through June.
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