Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today released preliminary statistics showing that New York City will record the fewest annual traffic fatalities since records were first kept in 1910. As of December 27th, there were 237 traffic fatalities in 2011, 40 percent fewer than in 2001. Included in the 2011 numbers were 134 pedestrian fatalities in crashes with vehicles, an all-time record-low and a 31 percent reduction since 2001; 47 senior pedestrian fatalities, a 27 percent reduction since 2001; and a record low of only three child pedestrian fatalities. Bicycle fatalities have held within the same range over the last decade, despite bike ridership quadrupling during that time period. The new record lows come as the Department of Transportation has undertaken unprecedented safety engineering initiatives and public education efforts and the NYPD has implemented aggressive enforcement programs, all to reduce dangerous speeding, combat drunken driving and calm traffic citywide. The Mayor made the announcement at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, where a new safety redesign was installed in October. The latest improvements at Grand Army Plaza are expected to build on the nearly 40 percent reduction in crashes in the plaza over the last three years due to previous safety upgrades.
“This will be the city’s safest traffic year in the more than 100 years since records were kept,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’ve made progress in every area of traffic safety due to our willingness to take new, creative approaches to longstanding challenges with safety redesigns and through aggressive traffic enforcement. We’ve focused on making our streets safer for all who use them – no matter how they decide travel – and it’s another reason New Yorkers are living longer and another reason our city is safer than ever before.”
“The reduction in traffic deaths as a result of our safety engineering means nearly 300 New Yorkers are alive today who would not have been if we had simply sustained the fatality rate of five years ago,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “And even as we applaud this accomplishment, the men and women of NYC DOT are working throughout the five boroughs to make our streets even safer.”
“NYPD traffic enforcement is aimed at saving lives, and that’s reflected in the million summonses we issue for moving violations annually,” said Police Commissioner Kelly. “About a third of the summonses are related to seat belt enforcement and distracted driving, both life and death concerns. It’s also reflected in arrests for DWI. We’ve made 8,500 drunk driving arrests through December 18th, and seized 900 vehicles in the process. On New Year’s Eve, the NYPD will establish check points and have additional roving patrols to enforce laws against drunken driving. Those who drink and drive are at risk of losing their licenses and their cars. Worse, they risk losing their own lives or killing others by driving drunk.”
“Nothing is more important than the safety of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists as they travel on the city’s streets,” said Mark Kulewicz, Director of Traffic Engineering and Safety Services at AAA New York. “We’re very pleased with the progress the City has made in reducing the number of travel deaths. It is a remarkable accomplishment given the growth in travel over the past 100 years.”
New York City’s traffic fatality rate has dropped from 4.87 fatalities per 100,000 residents in 2001 to 2.8 fatalities per 100,000 residents in 2011.
Traffic calming projects, street redesigns, and safety upgrades installed by the Department of Transportation during the past decade have resulted in improved safety throughout the five boroughs. In the last four years alone, the department has implemented safety improvement projects along 78 corridors and at 72 intersections. In 2011, the department made safety upgrades to 60 miles of streets, including more than 20 miles of street redesigns and implemented the city’s first Neighborhood Slow Zone in the Bronx, creating the first 20 miles per hour speed limit. Additionally, the department introduced new electronic speed boards in all five boroughs that display the speed of passing motorists and expects to bring additional Neighborhood Slow Zones online.
The NYPD continues its aggressive enforcement campaigns with a focus on violations that directly relate to serious injuries and death – speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, seat belt use and other dangerous behavior. In 2011, more than one million summonses were issued for moving violations. The NYPD’s focus on drunken drivers resulted in more than 8,500 arrests and the seizure of 900 vehicles.
The Department of Transportation also has installed pedestrian countdown signals at nearly 1,100 intersections citywide this year, which has helped drive pedestrian fatalities down to an all-time low. Locations where countdown signals have been installed include: along Grand Concourse, the Bronx; Queens Boulevard; 4th Avenue, Brooklyn; Delancey Street, Manhattan; and on Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island. The department is on course to install pedestrian countdown signals at an additional 2,000 intersections.
The Department of Transportation continues safety campaigns to implement safety engineering changes around schools and in senior-dense neighborhoods with high numbers of serious traffic crashes. The department continues to pair engineering with education and outreach campaigns, examples include this year’s launch of the “That’s Why it’s 30” ad campaign, which highlights the extreme safety impact of speeding, and the “Don’t be a Jerk” campaign, which highlights proper cycling behavior.
This year, the City won a long-fought legislative victory with the passage of State legislation mandating improved truck safety mirrors. The City continues to seek traffic safety legislation in Albany to install speed cameras at locations throughout the city, increase the number of red light cameras and increase work zone safety regulations.