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New York City sees record decline in traffic fatalities

Last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city had officially reached a rather impressive milestone concerning the number of annual traffic deaths. Specifically, Mayor Bloomberg indicated that the number of traffic fatalities in 2011 declined to the lowest level in 100 years, and that increased enforcement of vehicle traffic laws, re-engineering of city streets and public awareness campaigns were the most likely reason.

"This will be the city's safest traffic year in the more than 100 years since records were kept," said Bloomberg. "We've made progress in every area of traffic safety due to our willingness to take new, creative approaches to longstanding challenges with safety redesigns and through aggressive traffic enforcement."

According to statistics from the Transportation Department, there were approximately 237 traffic fatalities in the Big Apple in 2011, a 12.5 percent decrease from 2010 and a 40 percent decrease from 2001.

It is also worth noting that at least 134 of the 237 traffic fatalities were pedestrians, and that this was 18 fewer than the previous year.

Among the measures cited by city officials for reducing the traffic fatality rate:

  • Streets redesigned to include designated bike lanes and pedestrian plazas
  • Installation of 1,100 timer-equipped/countdown crosswalk signals at busy intersections
  • Public awareness campaigns, including traffic safety haiku signs and the "That's Why It's 30" campaign featuring electronic speed boards
  • The over 1 million traffic citations/summonses issued by the New York Police Department to drivers engaging in unsafe practices (i.e., seat belt violations, running a stop sign, talking/texting while driving)

"Nearly 300 New Yorkers are alive today who would not have been if we had simply sustained the fatality rate of five years ago," said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "These numbers are not the finish line; they're really just mile markers for us. We have much more to do."

It is worth noting that the fatality rate back in 1910 -- the year in which New York City first began tracking traffic fatalities -- was 332, and that the highest traffic fatality rate ever recorded was reached back in 1929 with 1,360 fatalities.

If you have been issued a traffic citation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Stay tuned for further developments from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...


The New York Times, "Record low set in deaths from traffic, mayor says" Dec. 29, 2011

OHS Online, "New record low for NYC traffic deaths" Jan. 4, 2012

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