This week DOT released a groundbreaking new report and action plan on pedestrian safety. The report analyzed over 7,000 records of motor vehicle crashes with pedestrians to identify underlying causes. The findings of the report will inform DOT's efforts to cut traffic fatalities in half by 2030 (over 2007 levels).
DOT has already made great strides in improving traffic safety. In fact, 2009 was the safest year since the City began keeping records in 2001. But there is still more to be done to prevent further pedestrian injuries and fatalities. In the event of a crash, pedestrians are 10 times more likely to die than a motor vehicle occupant. And pedestrians accounted for 52% of New York City traffic fatalities from 2005-2009.
The report finds that many of these crashes can be attributed to a few behaviors, including driver inattention – which was cited in 36% of crashes resulting in serious injuries or fatalities, as well as failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, which was cited in 27% of pedestrian fatalities. Speed also is a culprit. Pedestrian-vehicle crashes at unsafe speeds are twice as deadly as other crashes, and serious pedestrian crashes on major streets in New York City are nearly two-thirds deadlier than ones on smaller, local streets where speeds tend to be lower. DOT also found that most New Yorkers do not know the City's standard speed limit is 30 mph.
DOT will be addressing these findings with a series of actions to continue to reduce pedestrian accidents, including pilot programs to reduce speed limits to 20 mph and street redesigns to increase pedestrian safety. DOT is also installing 1,500 pedestrian countdown signals citywide by the end of this year.
Making New York more walkable is crucial to the mobility, health and quality of life of New Yorkers and visitors alike. These new initiatives will complement existing DOT programs including:
Safe Routes to School
Safe Streets for Seniors
NYC Plaza Program
DOT's Safety Education group also plays a huge role in educating New Yorkers about traffic safety with innovative programs ranging from Safety City to our newly created Walking Clubs.
With safer opportunities to get around on foot in New York City, DOT's Safety Education Team conducted walking clubs for 8–10 year olds across the city. The clubs met for five sessions in after-school centers in Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx with a curriculum focused on getting and staying fit, pedestrian safety, healthy eating, and environmental concerns. As part of the club, participants came up with creative ways to promote walking within their families and learned important pedestrian safety tips:
- Walk on sidewalks and watch out for cars pulling into, and backing out of, driveways.
- Use crosswalks to help you get from one side of the street to the other safely.
- Avoid crossing between parked cars and in front or behind large vehicles.
- Always look left, right, left again, behind and in front of you before you cross.
- Walk, don’t run, when crossing and keep scanning for turning vehicles while crossing.
- Stay close to adults and hold their hands when crossing.