Stronger Enforcement Of Traffic Laws Needed To Put Pedestrians First
October 17, 2011
Michael Murphy 646-873-6008
Today, Transportation Alternatives released the first of a series of "crash map" reports derived from CrashStat.org, T.A.'s new interactive online map of motorist crashes with pedestrians and bicyclists in New York City. The first crash map report, called "Walking in Traffic Violence," charts motorist crashes with pedestrians, breaking down the data by community district to give a historic view of road safety.
"We've all experienced the epidemic of dangerous driving in New York City," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "Despite the tremendous efforts made by the DOT to redesign streets for safety, behavior behind the wheel puts people in harm's way every day. To bring the number of people injured and killed in traffic down to zero, we need the NYPD to institute a zero tolerance crackdown on unsafe driving. For too long, dangerous and lethal drivers have gotten off with minimal or, astonishingly, no charges at all. The NYPD needs to put pedestrians first and step up the enforcement of traffic laws. The police must send a strong message: enough is enough, stop the violence on our roads."
According to the map, using New York State Department of Motor Vehicles data from 1995-2009, the neighborhoods with the most crashes with pedestrians in each borough are:
1. Midtown Manhattan (Manhattan Community District 5) with 8,604 crashes;
2. Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans (Queens Community District 12) with 4,741 crashes;
3. Flatbush, Ditmas Park, Midwood (Brooklyn Community District 14) with 3,920 crashes;
4. Concourse, Highbridge, Mt. Eden (Bronx Community District 4) with 2,938 crashes;
5. North Shore (Staten Island Community District 1) with 1,944 crashes.
Midtown Manhattan's Community District 5 has the highest number of pedestrians hit by motor vehicles. Averaged over the past 15 years, drivers in Midtown have struck a pedestrian every single day.
The neighborhoods with the fewest crashes in each borough are:
1. Riverdale, Fieldston, Kingsbridge (Bronx Community District 8) with 788 crashes;
2. The Rockaways (Queens Community District 14) with 1,012 crashes;
3. South Shore (Staten Island Community District 3) with 653 crashes;
4. Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Gravesend (Brooklyn Community District 13) with 1,689 crashes;
5. West Harlem, Hamilton Heights (Manhattan Community District 9) with 2,045 crashes.
Over the past several years, the New York City Department of Transportation has implemented a suite of life-saving street designs, explicitly targeting dangerous areas. The agency redesigned Broadway through the most dangerous district in the city--Manhattan Community District 5--to make the area safer. The Green Light for Midtown Project reduced pedestrian injuries by 35 percent. But safer street designs aren't enough. To bring the number of pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries down to zero, the New York City Police Department, the district attorneys' offices and other agencies must make pedestrian safety a priority.
As long as the default response to a motor vehicle crash is that it's an "accident," the behaviors that kill and injure pedestrians will continue. New York State's Department of Motor Vehicles has identified over 80 contributing factors associated with crashes. Drivers breaking traffic laws cause the majority of fatal traffic crashes. Incidents of speeding, running red lights and failure to yield run rampant on our streets. Of fatal crashes with known causes, 69 percent are caused by drivers' dangerous and illegal behavior.
On June 30th, Yolanda Casal, a 78 year old grandmother, was struck and killed by a motorist driving an SUV while crossing Amsterdam Avenue near West 98th Street--an area where pedestrians have been struck by motorists 3,109 times between 1995 and 2009. The motorist was charged with driving with a suspended license and received no charge for the conduct which resulted in the loss of Yolanda's Casal's life: driving backwards at an unsafe speed.
In June, Transportation Alternatives and the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy released "Vision Zero: How Safer Streets in New York City Can Save More Than 100 Lives a Year," which found that in New York City divers injure thousands of pedestrians every year; scores lose their lives. From 2000 to 2009:
• More people were killed in traffic than murdered by guns in New York City.
• A New Yorker died in traffic every 35 hours.
• Half of the people killed were pedestrians.