New York City trial lawyers Block O’Toole & Murphy continue to offer their vantage point on Mayor De Blasio’s ambitious Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities.
Calling traffic fatalities an epidemic in New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio unveiled more details of his Vision Zero initiative on Tuesday. The use of the word epidemic is no exaggeration. There were 286 traffic deaths in 2013. Seven pedestrians were killed in the first two weeks of 2014 alone, including 9-year-old Cooper Stock who was struck by a cab while holding his father’s hand. “Being struck by a car is the leading cause of injury-related death for children younger than 15,” the Mayor said on Tuesday. “We refuse to accept the loss of children, parents and neighbors as inevitable,” the Mayor said. “We are focusing the full weight of city government to prevent fatalities on our streets.”
Vision Zero is the Mayor’s roadway safety agenda plan for preventing traffic deaths and curing the traffic fatality epidemic in New York. Vision Zero is derived from Sweden’s road safety project of the same name, which was developed in 1997, and is based on treating all traffic deaths as preventable. Since 1997, traffic fatality rates in jurisdictions that adopted Vision Zero policies have fallen more than 25 percent faster than the national average. Vision Zero policies combine strong enforcement and better roadway engineering with improved emergency response and high visibility behavior campaigns to discourage dangerous behavior on roadways.
Mayor De Blasio’s Vision Zero plan is a series of several specific proposals-a 62-point plan-aimed at eliminating deadly traffic accidents in New York City within ten years. Tuesday’s announcement came after an interagency task force spent the past month developing these New York-specific strategies to make streets safer, particularly for pedestrians. The strategies include changes to city policies, new legislation, public education and community outreach.
Some of the initiatives unveiled by the Mayor include:
1. Increasing enforcement against speeding
What is it? This proposal includes adding personnel to the NYPD’s Highway Division to enforce speeding laws; every precinct will also be provided access to state-of-the-art speed detection devices
How it can help? Speed is widely cited as a major cause of fatal traffic accidents, and as a rampant problem in New York City
2. Developing borough-specific street safety plans
What is it? The DOT will identify and address dangerous locations, on a borough-by-borough basis, in partnership with elected officials, community boards and stakeholders; 50 locations will be targeted each year for extensive redesign
How can it help? Defining problem locations is the first step in preventing more tragic accidents there. For example, three pedestrians were killed within blocks of each other on the Upper West Side this January.
3. Redesigning 50 locations each year
What is it? the DOT will implement major safety engineering enhancements at 50 intersections and corridors each year
How can it help? New designs can improve visibility, ensure safer speeds, and more predictable movements, making potential accidents easier to foresee and prevent
3. Reducing the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph
What is it? the City will work with State leaders to reduce New York City’s default citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph
How can it help? Statistics show that the likelihood of a fatal crash declines significantly for speeds below 30 mph
4. Expanding the use of speed and red light enforcement cameras
What it is? the City will work with State leaders to authorize wider use of camera enforcement-the City is currently only authorized to use red light cameras at 150 intersections, speed enforcement cameras at 20 locations
How can it help? Since speed enforcement cameras were activated last month, they have issued nearly 4,000 speeding tickets. There are many more locations that remain unenforced by speed cameras
5. Expanding neighborhood Slow Zones
What is it? the DOT will work with communities to identify and implement 25 new arterial slow zones, 8 new neighborhood slow zones
How can it help? Slow zones will use signage and traffic calming measures like speed humps to minimize speeding
6. Stiffer penalties on taxi and livery drivers who drive dangerously
What is it? the Taxi and Limousine Commission will create its own enforcement squad to enforce traffic rules, as well as adopt new rules and work with the City Council on legislation to increase sanctions on drivers engaging in dangerous activity like speeding and failure to yield
How can it help? Speeding and failure to yield are the most common causes of pedestrian accidents, but currently carry little punishment
7. Standing Interagency Vision Zero Task Force
What is it? City Hall will continue to convene a Task Force to oversee implementation of the Action Plan and coordinate future efforts
How can it help? With all of the steps, strategies and plans, oversight and coordination will be key for ensuring the traffic safety initiatives continue to improve safety and evolve with the City
The Mayor’s new Vision Zero initiative is certainly a beacon of hope that the streets will become safer for the future, but there is continued sadness and mourning for the victims of serious traffic accidents.
Block O’Toole & Murphy has unparalleled experience and expertise in serious traffic accidents and works hard to ensure they recover to the fullest extent possible under the law. They have recovered well over $700,000,000 in verdicts and settlements for their clients. The Serious Accident Lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy, LLP are available for a free consultation – at 212-736-5300. You can also learn more about the firm by visiting the firm’s website at www.blockotoole.com.