Some New York Streets More Dangerous Than Others

High speed arterial streets encourage accidents in NYC

What is the most dangerous street in the New York metro region in terms of traffic accidents? As with so many other questions, the answer is, "It depends." Is the question about pedestrians or bicyclists? Is it about motor vehicles? There are numerous sources of statistics that attempt to answer the question.

Dangerous Streets For Pedestrians And Cyclists

One of the best sources of information about New York streets is the most recent pedestrian fatality report (covering the years 2011-2013) from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. This organization advocates for traffic improvements in parts of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York counties such as Suffolk, Nassau, Westchester and other suburban counties - in addition to the five boroughs of New York City. Overall, the report notes that the "widest and most heavily traveled boulevards" are the most dangerous for pedestrians. Jericho Turnpike in Suffolk County is listed as the most dangerous in the metro area, as it has been in past reports. In second place on this list is Hempstead Turnpike in Nassau County.

After these two roads outside the city proper, roads within New York City itself are the most dangerous for pedestrians in the tri-state region. The most dangerous borough, in terms of fatalities, is Brooklyn, with 130 pedestrian deaths in the three-year period. Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx had 127, 95 and 83 fatalities, respectively. Staten Island had 18.

More recent statistics are encouraging in that the number of people killed in February 2015 was the lowest since 2012, according to Streetsblog. However, 15 people still died; 11 were pedestrians, two were drivers and two were passengers. In comparison, January was a good month with only three fatalities.

Being hit by a motor vehicle is the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 14 and the second-leading cause of death for seniors. Another fact clearly energizing those supporting Vision Zero, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan for eliminating traffic deaths, is that there are nearly 40 percent more pedestrian deaths than motorist deaths.

Streets With The Most Motorist Deaths

The city of New York provides a wealth of data about motorist injuries and deaths within its borders in addition to numbers about pedestrian and bicyclist deaths. This information is available through the NYC data portal. For example, the Vision Zero website, available via the portal and providing information and data about the mayor's goal of eliminating traffic deaths, reports that as of the end of February this year, there were nine fatalities and 4,766 injuries from motor vehicle accidents in 2015.

In 2014, there were 97 motorist fatalities and 36,061 injuries. If the pattern continues, the 2015 total of motor vehicle deaths in the city will be less than in 2014, giving support to the efforts embodied in the Vision Zero plan.

Vision Zero maps locate where motor vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths occurred through February 2015. As of Dec. 31, 2014, places where drivers were most likely to be killed included:

  • The intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Avenue U in Brooklyn
  • The intersection of Utica Avenue and Avenue D in Brooklyn
  • The exit at Belt Parkway and Conduit Avenue in Queens

These are all arterial roads that encourage drivers to travel fast; pedestrians, drivers and passengers are killed as a result, as noted above. When it comes to motorist injuries, the same is true. Hot spots for driver and passenger injuries (as opposed to fatalities) include Astoria Boulevard, Northern Boulevard, Grand Central Parkway and Queens Boulevard in Queens. In Brooklyn, streets such as Atlantic Avenue, Eastern Parkway and Utica Avenue see the most motor vehicle accident injuries.

How Vision Zero Can Help

What is the Vision Zero program doing to reduce these sobering numbers about fatalities among pedestrians, cyclists and motorists? Reducing speed appears to be an important goal, and the city's Department of Transportation is redesigning roadways, lowering speed limits, installing medians, expanding the use of traffic cameras and changing the timing on traffic signals - all in the interest of getting drivers to slow down.

In cities where Vision Zero programs have been in place for years, traffic fatalities are indeed much reduced. In Sweden, where Vision Zero was implemented in 1997, traffic fatalities have declined by 30 percent. In states such as Minnesota, Utah and Washington, programs similar to Vision Zero have resulted in significant declines in traffic fatalities - 23 percent, 48 percent and 40 percent reductions, respectively. The program clearly has the potential to improve the safety and quality of life of New Yorkers in all five boroughs and beyond. It is yet to be seen whether this will happen as quickly as the mayor wants.