Vision Zero requires partnership: government alone will not bring about the broader changes in attitude and behavior needed to end traffic fatalities. Companies that operate large numbers of vehicles must play their part. Organized and vocal communities will be critical to maintaining focus and pressure on institutions and actors across New York City and in Albany.
From established non-profit organizations and daily bloggers to coalitions of families and neighbors, advocates have drawn attention to the devastation caused by traffic deaths and injuries and have helped focus our collective outrage into meaningful, actionable plans. Vision Zero policies exist in many parts of the world because safety advocates have pushed entire societies to do better.
This Vision Zero Action Plan marks a next phase of advocacy for safe streets—a new partnership between citizens, government and the private sector. Thoughtful input from citizens and safety advocates are embodied in City policy and in this report. As we move forward on our streets and in Albany, the voices of citizen-advocates, supported by the megaphone of City government, will help pass needed legislation and ensure safer streets. On the streets of New York, advocates bring fresh, independent voices and new ideas to the table and act as watchdogs to ensure that promises are fulfilled.
Participation by companies, especially those with large commercial fleets that operate in New York and their trade organizations are also essential to Vision Zero. As noted in the Department of Transportation’s 2010 Pedestrian Safety Study, commercial vehicles, buses, taxis and trucks account for 6.1% of vehicles on the street but 20% of crashes where pedestrians are severely injured or killed. Truck and bus crashes were also nearly three times more likely to result in a pedestrian fatality than crashes involving passenger vehicles.
One way the private sector can improve street safety is through coordinated participation in outreach regarding safe driving behaviors to members, workforces and customers and in supporting key legislation that protects us all. Increased education, especially regarding turning and yielding, is particularly valuable for commercial fleet drivers who use New York City streets daily. In February 2014, a Vision Zero Trucking Partners Roundtable, including representatives of major truck fleet operators in New York, the Teamsters and the NYS Motor Truck Association, discussed education, design and outreach ideas and spotlighted the good practices already in place within many high-profile fleets.
Private companies and associations already participate in valuable City safety initiatives. The Toyota Foundation, for example, provides critical support to enhance curriculum and programming for DOT work with school-age children. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and the Allstate Foundation also provide support elements of safety education within the City. Coordination with additional companies and campaigns could increase the reach and impact of Vision Zero’s message in New York. Interest groups such as the AAA and a number of major car companies such as Honda and Ford have extensive safe driving campaigns. In addition, partnerships with insurance companies can encourage the creation of insurance products that reward safe driving.
Vision Zero will focus on reaching New York’s commercial and professional drivers. The Taxi and Limousine Commission in particular will enhance its driver education, creating a more comprehensive, taxi-specific, training program for new taxi drivers, requiring additional training for TLC-licensed drivers who have been in crashes and updating materials to show newer street designs and how to handle high crash intersection types. These messages will be reinforced through driver information monitors, safety flyers in mailings to drivers, stickers in taxis reminding passengers to look before they open their doors and the creation of a “Taxi Driver Honor Roll” to let passengers know about the driving record of their cabbie, and encouragement to tip for safer driving. In addition, DOT will include safe driving messaging on its construction permits and add safety flyers to Alternate Side Parking regulation mailings. Other City agencies will also enhance education efforts—the Business Integrity Commission in particular will liaison with commercial carters and DCAS will update and expand driver education for city employees driving city cars.
There is also significant room for private sector technical and product innovation. In New York, 31% of pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries involving trucks resulted from a right turn, compared with 6% for all vehicles, suggesting that vehicle design features such as limited visibility from the cab are a factor in crashes. Already a number of companies such as FedEx and Duane Reade are using high visibility/reduced blindspot vehicles in their New York City operations. In Europe, the European Union is currently considering legislation to mandate such design in future model years.