In marking Grandparents Week (April 24-30), several City agencies – including DOT, the NYPD and the Department for the Aging (DFTA) – today announced that the agencies had stepped up their Vision Zero education and enforcement efforts to target illegal driving behavior that is most dangerous to the oldest New Yorkers.
“We celebrate our grandparents this week, but unfortunately, older New Yorkers are disproportionately the victims in New York City’s deadliest traffic crashes,” said Polly Trottenberg, Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. “Working with our sister agencies in a week when so many New York City grandparents are caring for their grandkids on spring break, now is the perfect time to underscore the Mayor’s Vision Zero message, reminding drivers that maintaining a legal speed and yielding to pedestrians will help keep every grandparent safe.”
New Yorkers over age 60 make up 17% of New York City’s total population. According to DOT data from 2010 to 2014, they comprised 18% of pedestrians struck in serious traffic crashes. However, in that same period, New Yorkers over 60 comprised 47% of the total number of fatalities. In other words, the data show that while older pedestrians are not struck by vehicles at a significantly higher rate, the injuries they suffer are far likelier to lead to deadly complications.
Street teams have visited 25 key communities in each of the first two years of Vision Zero, working at key intersections and with local institutions. Teams hand out flyers and talk to members of the public, with an emphasis on drivers. Generally, each week of street-team education is followed by a week of enforcement at the Precinct level, with NYPD targeting driving behaviors such as speed, failure to yield to pedestrians, distracted driving and parking in traffic lanes.
Additionally this week, DOT has joined the NYC Safe Kids Coalition in presenting a series of injury prevention events for older New Yorkers in communities across New York City (including Manhattan’s East Side; Jamaica, Flushing and Richmond Hill in Queens; Bay Ridge and Flatbush in Brooklyn; and Dongan Hills on Staten Island, among others; see full schedule here).
“Street Teams working to protect our seniors is another example of the collaborative effort moving us towards the goal of Vision Zero,” said NYPD Transportation Chief Thomas Chan. “With seniors accounting for so many of our pedestrian fatalities, NYPD officers throughout the city are promoting a traffic safety message for seniors during Grandparent Week, a time to also reflect upon our debt to a group that has sacrificed so much.”
Since the start of the Vision Zero initiative, the NYPD has moved major elements of traffic enforcement to the precinct level, which has led to a significant increase in violations. Comparing year-to-date data from 2013, prior to Vision Zero, to 2016, the number of speeding violations written by NYPD officers has increased by 63% (27,054 in 2013 to 44,048 in 2016) while failure-to-yield violations have risen 211% (4,363 to 13,587).
“We are proud to be part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, as we need to do all that we can to ensure that the most common and healthy activity that aging New Yorkers do every day – walking – remains safe,” said Donna Corrado, Commissioner for the Department for the Aging. “With the number of seniors in New York City growing, we are very hopeful that this critical multi-agency effort to educate drivers and enforce the law will help save lives.”
“In New York, we treasure and love our grandparents, appreciating all that their wealth of knowledge offers us each day,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the City Council Transportation Committee. “For us as a City, this means paying close attention to safety of seniors on our streets. Drivers need to slow down and take serious care on our streets, particularly in residential communities and areas with higher populations of seniors. The message is simple, take your foot off the gas, ease up on your turns and you may be saving the life of a grandparent in our city.”
“As we honor our grandparents who contribute so much as caregivers and stewards of their communities, it is only appropriate that we also raise awareness about the dangers they face on City streets,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, chair of the Council’s Committee on Aging. “Too often, our seniors are the victims of fatal crashes caused by irresponsible drivers. I am a proud supporter of the Mayor’s Vision Zero message, and I thank Commissioners Trottenberg and Corrado, as well as our enforcement partners at the NYPD, for reminding drivers that the choices they make on our roadways have a tremendous impact on the safety of our grandparents, and on New Yorkers of all ages.”
“Our seniors should never have to fear for their lives when walking around in their communities. As Chair of the Committee on Public Safety, I am proud of the work the NYPD and the Department of Transportation have done to promote a safe, walkable City, particularly for our seniors and those with mobility issues. The NYPD’s increased enforcement sends a clear message: we will not stand for reckless driving or behavior that endangers the lives of pedestrians. We have much more work to do, especially in my district along the Jerome corridor, but I’m thankful for our progress thus far and look forward to continued partnerships with DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on Vision Zero efforts and senior safety,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety.
This past January, Mayor de Blasio announced that 2015 had been the safest year ever on New York City’s streets, and unveiled several new Vision Zero initiatives for 2016. In addition to targeted NYPD enforcement, he announced the expansion of New York City’s 1,000-mile bike network, an additional $115 million investment in street redesign and traffic-calming measures on key thoroughfares citywide, a pilot project to reduce left-turn collisions, increased use of speed-enforcement cameras and more intensive safety education in collaboration with the Department of Education in elementary and middle schools.
For more information about Vision Zero please visit www.nyc.gov/visionzero.