City Plans Change After Studying Pedestrian Fatalities - NBC New York

City Plans Change After Studying Pedestrian Fatalities

354K study analyzed the roots of traffic deaths



    City Plans Change After Studying Pedestrian Fatalities
    Getty Images/Chris Hondros
    NEW YORK - MAY 02: Pedestrians walk around the corner at the intersection at 45th Street and Seventh Avenue in Times Square where a crude car bomb was discovered last night May 2, 2010 in New York City. Investigators say the bomb, made of propane, gasoline and fireworks, had begun to detonate but there was no explosion. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

    Every New Yorker knows the dangers of traversing the city streets. But a new pedestrian safety report  details the causes of most accidents, the most dangerous places in New York and what changes can be made to the city’s transportation landscape to make it safer.

    The Department of Transportation's Pedestrian Safety Study & Action Plan  found that 2009 was the safest year on record, with traffic fatalities down by 35 percent from 2001.

    “We’ve made historic gains in reducing traffic fatalities, and this year we are seeing pedestrians fatalities decline again,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “But we still see too many families devastated by traffic accidents."

    Pedestrian fatalities occurred disproportionately along multi-lane streets and avenues. Driving speeds are generally slower on smaller side streets so accidents are not as deadly, the report found.  When traffic accidents did occur, pedestrians accounted for 52 percent of traffic fatalities from 2005-2009.

    Speeding has been named a major factor in road fatalities.  Not suprisingly, the mortality rate for pedestrians is 10 times higher than for occupants of vehicles.

    "One of the biggest complaints I get as a Councilman is cars speeding down side streets, ignoring traffic controls, and creating a dangerous environment for pedestrians in general,” said Transportation Committee Chair Councilman James Vacca.

    Commissioner Khan informally polled New Yorkers to find that most didn't know that the speed limit is 30 M.P.H.  In the report, driver inattention was cited as the cause of the accident 36 percent of the time. Failure to yield by a motorist was cited 27 percent of the time.

    The study also found that many New York myths held little water. Long portrayed as reckless drivers, taxis  were not to blame in most accidents. In fact, 79 percent of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve private vehicles -- not taxis, trucks and buses. Only 20 percent of the pedestrians killed or seriously injured in New York last year were crossing against the light, compared to 27 percent who had waited for the walk signal, the study found.

    Eighty percent of the crashes that killed or seriously injured pedestrians involved vehicles driven by men, the study found.

    The study did more than just quantify the city’s traffic accidents. The Department of Transportation said changes are on the way. 

    The city is preparing to install countdown pedestrian signals at 1,500 intersections in all five boroughs. It will also rework 60 miles of streets for greater pedestrian safety ,as dictated by the corridor crash data collected.

    The Department of Transportation is also seeking to re-engineer 20 intersections for pedestrian safety on major two-way streets such as 23rd, 57th, and 125th St. 

    The city will also launch a pilot program to test the safety performance of neighborhood specific 20 m.p.h speed zones.

    A media campaign to educate New Yorkers about safe driving practices will also begin. The campaign is aimed at reminding New Yorkers that the standard speed limit is 30 miles an hour.

    “New York’s streets are the safest of any big city, and this study provides a road map for safety strategies throughout the five boroughs to make our streets even safer,” said Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.