What's Driving the Rise in NYC Traffic Deaths?

Despite years of consistent decline, and a variety of efforts aimed at improving safety, traffic fatalities spiked by 23 percent last year in New York City. Matt Flegenheimer examines what may be causing the increase.

Findings included in last week's release of the twice-yearly Mayor's Management Report revealed figures that are sure to give pause to Mayor Bloomberg and his top transportation deputy, Janette Sadik-Khan. "Though overall crashes fell slightly for the second straight year, 176 cyclists or pedestrians were killed in crashes, up from 158 the previous year. The other 115 deaths were motorists or their passengers, a sharp rise from the 78 drivers and passengers killed the year before."

While Flegenheimer seems to suggest initially that the numbers indicate the failure of recent measures credited with improving safety, such as pedestrian plazas and bike lanes, he also notes that "preliminary analysis suggested that the crashes were concentrated on highways, far removed from many of the areas that have been the focus of the city's initiatives."    

"According to the Mayor's Management Report, speeding, driving while intoxicated, and running red lights or stop signs accounted for a combined 54 percent of motorist or passenger fatalities." DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan also attributes partial blame to a rise in distracted driving and distracted walking. 

"The traffic data appears more encouraging," notes Flegenheimer, "when set against figures from past years, before the city experienced its recent sharp decline in annual deaths. There were 243 traffic fatalities in the calendar year 2011, about a 38 percent reduction from 2001." 

Full Story: Traffic Deaths Rise in New York City

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