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New York's Effort to Eliminate Traffic Deaths

New York Magazine recently published the stories of some of the victims of bicycle and pedestrian accidents in New York.  So far this year, around 200 people have died on the streets of New York City.  Traffic-related fatalities are the number-one cause of death for children under 14 in the city.  It is the second most frequent cause of death for seniors. About every 48 hours, a cyclist or pedestrian dies.  Traffic accidents kill more New Yorkers than guns. Around 70,000 are injured traffic accidents every year.  Someone is injured or killed by a traffic accident every two hours. Pedestrians are 56 percent of all NYC traffic fatalities. These are all sobering statistics. 

A signature of Mayor de Blasio’s tenure is changing this state of affairs.  He has launched his “Vision Zero” plan to reduce traffic deaths to zero. One of the important components of the plan is to reduce speed limits in the city to 25 miles per hour; this change goes into effect next month.  However, there are many other aspects of this plan, which requires many city agencies to take their own actions.

In addition to the speed limit reduction, Vision Zero intends to institute the following measures to achieve its goals:

  • Increase the number of traffic cops to 263. The Police Department will authorize precinct officers to ticket dangerous drivers more consistently.  The NYPD will also purchase more speed guns to catch speeding motorists. Traffic enforcement and issuing citations to drivers who violate traffic laws will be stepped up.
  • Grow the Collision Investigation Squad to investigate all accidents that result in critical injuries.
  • Redesign 50 intersections a year to improve safety, install 250 speed bumps and improve lighting at 1,000 intersections. The plan will double the number of signs that report driver speed.
  • Create pedestrian islands, curb extensions, bike lanes, left turn lanes and neighborhood slow zones with 20 mph speed limits.
  • Conduct street safety outreach programs at 500 schools each year.
  • Pilot a program to put black boxes in taxis.
  • Explore in-car technology that warns when a taxi is over the speed limit.
  • Increase penalties for cab drivers who are habitual traffic violators or experience high rates of accidents.
  • Install technology to record speed in city-owned vehicles.
  • Expand defensive driver training program for all drivers of city-owned vehicles.
  • Include traffic injuries and fatalities in public health reports.

These and many other initiatives are being undertaken by the following city departments:

  • City Hall
  • New York Police Department
  • Department of Transportation
  • Taxi and Limousine Commission
  • Department of Citywide Administrative Services
  • Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

In subsequent blogs, we will drill down into the details of some of the Vision Zero plans to eliminate traffic fatalities in the City of New York.