Mayor de Blasio Announces Effort To Reduce — and Possibly Eliminate — Automobile Accident and Traffic Deaths Citywide
Mayor de Blasio released his administration’s Vision Zero Action Plan on February 18, 2014. The plan outlines in detail Hizzoner’s ambitious goal to significantly reduce auto and traffic-related pedestrian accident deaths on New York City streets.
In making his announcement, the mayor said that pedestrian deaths are at “epidemic proportions, and there’s nothing we’re doing that could be more urgent than getting this right.”
To expedite the program, according to various news reports, the Mayor acted quickly by assembling a multi-departmental interagency task force within a week after his inauguration, with the mandate to develop an action plan within one month that — when implemented — would realistically lead to a reduction, and hopefully the elimination, of pedestrian deaths by motor vehicle accident in the city.
The plan includes a comprehensive to-do list ranging from lowering the speed limit throughout the five boroughs, to stepping up enforcement against heavy-footed drivers and the chronic failure of many irresponsible motorists to yield to pedestrians crossing major city intersections, particularly at designated “Yield to Pedestrian” crosswalks. The Mayor’s effort comprises a multi-pronged effort that integrates new legislation with public education and community outreach.
Additional Forces Working to Slow Down the Rate of Motor Vehicle and Pedestrian Accidents in New York City
Standing firmly behind the Mayor’s efforts to make city streets safer for pedestrians – yet often overlooked by many local lawmakers – are the top New York pedestrian accident lawyers whose persistent efforts on behalf of their injured clients have led to landmark revisions by city legislators to step-up enforcement of existing laws, designed to punish reckless drivers and to improve street and sidewalk conditions that are often the cause of vehicular accidents involving pedestrians.
“Negligence lawsuits have an effect of improving safety in the streets,” Jay Dankner, managing partner of Dankner Milstein, P.C, one of the city’s top pedestrian accident law firms, said.
“If the condition of an intersection or sidewalk can be the cause of an accident,” Dankner added, “and the city is forced to pick up all, or part, of the tab when someone in injured at that location (e.g. Queens Boulevard, or 96th St. & Broadway in Manhattan), the responsible departments of city government take notice and make the necessary changes. Improvements are often made in lighting conditions, traffic lights, the clearing of obstructions of a driver’s view and the pruning of trees and foliage. Over time, such improvements end up saving the city millions of dollars in liability claims.”
Further Details of the Vision Zero Action Plan, Intended to Put a Stop to Accidents
Sounding very serious about improving pedestrian safety in the five boroughs, Mayor de Blasio said he refuses to accept serious injury and loss of life on city streets as inevitable.
“We are focusing the full weight of city government on the prevention of fatalities on our streets,” the mayor said. “This will add up to much more than changing intersections or issuing violations. It’s about each New Yorker taking greater responsibility every time we get behind the wheel of a car, or truck, or step out on the street. Our lives are literally in each other’s hands.”
New York City’s Vision Zero Action Plan comprises dozens of specific initiatives that include:
- Increasing NYPD precinct-level enforcement of speeding violations by adding additional personnel in its Highway Division and ensuring every precinct has access to state-of-the-art speed detection devices.
- The Department of Transportation (DOT) will initiate a plan to address 50 dangerous locations in communities across the city for extensive redesign.
- The DOT will implement major safety engineering enhancements at 50 intersections each year to improve visibility and adjust for safer speeds.
- An across-the-board reduction of the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph. (The likelihood of fatal accidents declines significantly for speeds below 30 mph).
- Expand the use of speed and red light enforcement cameras. (Since speed enforcement cameras were activated late last year, they have issued nearly 4,000 speeding tickets).
- The DOT will work with communities to identify and implement 25 new arterial slow zones and eight new neighborhood slow zones that use signage and traffic calming measures like speed humps to minimize speeding.
- Toughen penalties on taxi and livery drivers who drive dangerously.
Hard-Hitting Statistics about Motor Vehicle and Pedestrian Accidents in New York City
- According to the New York City Department of Transportation, getting hit by a car is the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 15, and the second leading cause of injury-related death for senior citizens.
- Last year, there were 286 traffic deaths in the city.
- So far this year, there have been more than 28 traffic deaths already.
- Seventy percent of incidents involving pedestrian fatalities involve the issue of speed or failure to yield.
- Pedestrians have been killed in 17.5% of all collision fatalities in New York State and 54% in New York City.
- In New York State and city, drivers are rarely charged criminally if they kill another person in a crash because vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter statutes in NY State apply only to motorists who are drunk or on drugs—one of the narrowest standards for conviction in the nation.
- In New York State, drivers were charged with vehicular manslaughter or aggravated vehicular homicide in about 5% of the 4,801 fatal crashes from 2008 to 2012, according the latest data available from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Department of Motor Vehicles. In the same time frame in New York City, there were 66 arrests under vehicular homicide laws out of 1,298 crashes—also about 5%.
- Since 2008, the number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents has remained relatively steady in New York City and in the State. But pedestrian fatalities in the city climbed 23.5% last year, from 136 in 2012 to 168 in 2013, according to police department statistics.
In the event of an accident, Mr. Dankner strongly recommends that the injured party do the following:
- Obtain as much information as you can about the striking car or truck or other vehicle, especially the full name and address of the owner and driver;
- Get the make, model and year of vehicle and insurance information; ask for their insurance card and photo ID;
- Get the names and addresses of any witnesses;
- Call 911 and wait for the police to arrive and insist upon a report being prepared and filed;
- Take cell phone photos of the vehicle, the intersection, the driver, the lights, stop signs, etc.;
- Seek medical attention immediately and tell the ER personnel you were struck by a car, truck, etc.; and make note of all areas where you feel pain or have any physical complaint;
- If your injuries prevent you doing so, ask anyone you were with or even a passerby to get the information and send it to you;
- And of course, contact an experienced New York pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible.