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Traffic safety science and New York traffic fatality rates: Part I

Posted by Smiley & Smiley on Dec 13, 2012 5:38:15 PM

New York is a fast-paced, diverse and complex city. Analysis of potential safety threats to the safety of New York residents cannot be approached in the same ways that analysis of other cities can. New York is too crowded, too uniquely constructed and too culturally distinct to be analyzed in the same ways that the vast majority of other American cities may when it comes to everyday safety threats.

Therefore, when determining why fatal auto and truck accidents have suddenly increased dramatically in New York City, the unique and defining characteristics of New York crosswalk culture, its traffic grid and its population must be carefully considered. Just as New Yorkers compete for living space, dinner reservations and show tickets, pedestrians, motorists and cyclists must compete for space on the road, often with tragic results.

Traffic-related fatalities occurring in New York jumped an astounding 23 percent between July 2011 and June 2012. In all, 291 individuals were killed in New York due to traffic-related accidents during this time period. Among those killed, 176 were cyclists and pedestrians. This number is tragic in and of itself. However, it is also particularly catastrophic, given that traffic fatality rates have been declining in New York steadily for a decade.

The Bloomberg administration has made some significant progress in its quest to redesign roadways, draw attention to pedestrian safety and install bike lanes. However, these efforts have not been enough to inspire a decline in traffic fatality rates in the past recorded year. So what is causing the high number of fatal traffic accidents in New York and what can be done about these hazards? Please check back in tomorrow as we continue our discussion.

Source: New York Magazine, "Death by Car," Robert Kolker, Nov. 25, 2012

Topics: car accidents, cyclist-safety, pedestrians

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