According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City set a new record in 2011 for the fewest fatal traffic accidents in the last 100 years. There were 237 deaths in 2011, a reduction from the 267 who were killed in 2010, which was the previous record for fewest fatalities on New York City streets. This is also a huge drop from ten years ago, when there were approximately 430 fatal traffic accidents in the city.
The New York City Transportation Commissioner attributes the significant reduction in deaths to numerous measures that the City has implemented over the last five years, including reconfigured streets with pedestrian plazas (particularly noticeable around Herald Square and Time Square); crosswalks with timer signals, and bicycle lanes. Particularly in historically dangerous intersections on Delancey Street in Manhattan and Queens Boulevard in Queens, this has had a substantial impact according to NYC statistics, with the installation of countdown signals. In total, 1,100 such signals have been added.
Bicycle fatalities have actually gone up for the last two years, with 21 deaths in 2011, 18 in 2010 and 12 in 2009. However, Mayor Bloomberg claims that bicycle ridership has increased significantly during that span, with NYC installing several hundred miles of bike lanes. Thus, Bloomberg asserts that there has been a per capita decrease in the death rate for bicyclists.
When compared to traffic fatalities in 1970, when there were 944, and the shockingly highest number registered in 1929, when 1,360 people lost their lives in traffic crashes, the 237 in 2011 seems even more impressive. In the beginning of the 20th century, the roads in urban areas were much more congested with pedestrians, trolley cars and horse drawn carriages, in addition to cars, and traffic rules essentially did not exist yet. This was borne out by an amazing 11 minute film recorded in San Francisco one week prior to the Great Earthquake on 1906, which was broadcast on CBS’ “Sixty Minutes” earlier this year. What I found truly amazing about this film was the utter lack of fear of injury by pedestrians, who proceeded to walk right in front of cars, trolley cars, and carriages, the non-existence of traffic “rules of the road”, (such as yielding the right of way!), and the vehicles moving in all possible directions at all times!
New York City Police Commissioner Kelly noted that the improved safety on New York City streets is also due to the more than one million traffic tickets issued this year. There were 164,000 for not wearing a seat belt; 161,000 for texting or speaking on a cell phone while driving, and 127,000 for driving past a stop sign. Additionally, there were 8,500 DWI arrests in the city in 2011, which led to 900 vehicles being confiscated from those convicted of these charges.
If you are injured in a car crash, bicycle accident, or in a construction accident, contact the Westchester County Personal Injury Attorneys online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free initial consultation with an experienced trial attorney to discuss your case in detail.