For the last several years, several European countries, including Sweden, the Netherlands, and Norway, and some states in the U.S., have adopted a program known as “Vision Zero” in an all-out effort to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The program includes better traffic signs and roadway design, and a reduction of speed limits on local roads and highways. Research has determined that the human tolerance for a collision with a well-designed motor vehicle is approximately 19 miles per hour. When Mayor Bill de Blasio entered office last year, he announced that New York City was going to adopt the Vision Zero program to emphasize an effort to make New York City streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. This was after a personal plea by more than 4,500 letters from members of Families for Safe Streets, an organization that was created by family members of those killed or seriously injured in pedestrian, bicycle or car crashes in New York City.
The Vision Zero program involves improving traffic signage and reducing speed limits. In New York annually, approximately 4,000 people are seriously injured and there are more than 250 fatalities in traffic crashes. For children under the age of 14, being hit by a car is the leading cause of injury-related death, and is the second leading cause of death due to injury of seniors. On average, vehicles seriously injure or kill a New Yorker every two hours. Interestingly, although Mayor de Blasio has placed a major impetus on implementing the Vision Zero program, traffic fatalities in New York City have been steadily decreasing from 701 in 1990, 381 in 2000, to 249 in 2011. Obviously, any traffic fatalities are a problem when it comes to the huge volume of pedestrians in the City of New York.
Vision Zero has also been implemented in major cities across the U.S., including Boston, where in March of 2014, personal injury attorney John Sheehan initiated the “Vision Zero Auto Accident Prevention Scholarship” to encourage young adults to recognize the benefits of safer driving, and San Francisco, where district supervisors introduced the Vision Zero plan after 25 pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities in 2013 alone.
From 2010 through 2012, there were 420 pedestrians killed by cars in NYC traffic accidents. Statistically, the most dangerous street is Broadway in Manhattan with 9 fatalities, followed by Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens with 8 deaths over the two year period. Initially, Mayor de Blasio noted that the safety measures would include red light cameras at intersections, the widening of parking lanes to prevent delivery vehicles from blocking traffic lanes, and speed restrictions. However, many New York City drivers seem to have been caught unaware by the implementation of the new default speed limit of 25 (from 30) on November 7, 2014. This could be due to the fact that the default limit had been 30 miles per hour for more than 50 years! Between November 5 and November 12, 2014, NYC cops issued 3,772 speeding tickets, which was a whopping 103% increase from the 1,858 tickets they issued during the same week last year.
The movers behind Vision Zero use seat belt use as an example of a safety success story where government, private industry and citizens combined their efforts to save lives and decrease serious injuries. Regarding seat belts, in 1985, the national rate of seatbelt use was approximately 20%. Almost 30 years later, stronger laws, strict enforcement, better automobile design and public education have resulted in an increase to 88% seat belt usage.
Undoubtedly, the huge spike in NYC speeding tickets will continue for some time until the word spreads—there’s a new, slower speed limit in NYC.
Contact the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 if you are injured in a car crash, as a pedestrian, a bicycle accident or any other type of accident for a free consultation to discuss what your options are and the best strategy for your case.