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Traffic violations cause majority of bike and pedestrian fatalities

As New York City bike enthusiasts already know, cyclists are vulnerable to reckless drivers on the road. Pedestrians face many of the same dangers. According to a new report, the majority of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are caused by illegal behavior behind the wheel. The report has incited many New Yorkers, especially since recent reports also indicate that the NYPD has failed to curb or punish reckless driving.

The report summarizes data collected in a study between 1995 and 2009, finding that 60 percent of fatal accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists were the result of motorists breaking traffic laws. Of crashes that killed or injured pedestrians, 36 percent were caused by distracted driving, 25 percent were failure to yield and 20 percent were caused by speeding. The report also concludes that 47 percent of crashes occurred at signalized intersections and 57 percent happened when a pedestrian had a crossing signal.

The "dead or likely to die" rule dictates whether the accident is investigated. According to NYPD protocol, many crashes are never investigated if the victim is not "dead or likely to die." This means that many motorists who drive negligently or cause a fatal accident are never held accountable. According to the reports, the NYPD also cut personnel on the unit for enforcing speed limitations on neighborhood streets.

New York City's traffic fatality rates exceed those of other large cities. The report indicated that Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong and Tokyo have fatality rates that are 35 to 50 percent lower than New York's. For those involved in accidents, an independent investigation can help you protect your rights, preserve evidence, and hold responsible parties accountable.

Source: Streets Blog, "Most city pedestrians and cyclists killed by drivers who broke the law," Brad Aaron, August 6, 2012.