Bucking strong national trends, 2016’s 229 traffic fatalities were fewest ever in New York City, marking three years of decline and a 23 percent reduction since 2013
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that under the Vision Zero plan, New York City had its safest-ever year in 2016 with the fewest traffic fatalities ever recorded: 229, improving on the record of 234 set in 2015. Traffic fatalities have declined for three consecutive years, and are down 23 percentage overall since before Vision Zero began. With national trends showing traffic fatalities increasing over the last two years, the Mayor noted several other positive trends in 2016, including the success of street redesigns and a record-low number of fatalities among school-age children.
“No loss of life on our streets is acceptable. Under Vision Zero, we have now seen traffic fatalities in our City decline for three straight years, strongly countering national trends,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I have said where Vision Zero is concerned, we are just getting started and can always do better, but I nevertheless want to thank the NYPD, DOT and supporting agencies on all their hard work to deliver another year of strong results.”
“The first three years of Vision Zero in New York has been the safest three-year period in history on our City’s roadways,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Under the Mayor’s leadership, we achieved the safest-ever year with the redesign of more streets than ever before and with close collaborative work with our colleagues at sister agencies. We are especially proud of this year’s innovative Vision Zero efforts -- like theCross This Way curriculum, our pilot to make left turns safer and the Dusk & Darkness initiative – that we believe all combined to make a real difference.”
“2016 was the safest year on record in New York City. We are immensely proud of that accomplishment, but are committed to further reducing crime and making our streets even safer in this new year,” said Commissioner James P. O’Neill.
“Every life saved on our roads matters, because every life is a mother or father, sister or brother, friend or coworker,” said Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation. “New York City’s commitment to Vision Zero shows that a comprehensive approach to road safety has measurable impacts, and the city serves as a model for the rest of the country as we commit ourselves to reaching zero traffic fatalities.”
Among notable Vision Zero achievements in 2016:
- Bucking National Trends: New York City’s overall 23 percent decline in traffic fatalities since 2013 runs strongly counter to national trends. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic fatalities nationwide last year saw their biggest increase in 50 years, a 7.1 percentage increase – with increases for 2016 forecasted to be even higher.
- Record Number of Street Redesigns: In 2016, DOT completed more than 100 safety projects, 165 miles of corridor safety retiming, 18.5 miles of protected bike lanes, 405 speed bumps and more than 750 pedestrian head-starts – all new records.
- Fewer Fatalities at Vision Zero Priority Locations: Since 2014, DOT has targeted over 175 high-crash intersections and corridors for redesign and other safety improvements; declines in traffic fatalities at these locations are outpacing the citywide decline in traffic deaths. For the five years prior to Vision Zero there were 141 deaths annually at Vision Zero priority locations; this year, there were 100 fatalities, a 29 percent decline. For pedestrians, there was a similar decline: 99 annual fatalities from 2009-13 at such locations to 72 in 2016, or 27 percent lower.
- Fewest Ever Fatalities in Brooklyn: Brooklyn led all boroughs with a record decline in traffic fatalities: 51 in 2016 compared to 67 in 2015, a 24 percent decrease. The previous one-year record low for traffic fatalities in Brooklyn had been 66 in 2009.
- Substantial Decreases on Staten Island: Staten Island also saw a marked decline in traffic fatalities: 17 fatalities in 2016 compared to 25 in 2015. Along Hylan Boulevard, fatalities were lowered from 8 last year to 4 this year. Hylan Boulevard had received special attention as a Vision Zero priority corridor: DOT added pedestrian head-starts and other pedestrian safety treatments, while the local NYPD precincts (including the 122, 123 and Highway 5) dramatically stepped up speeding enforcement.
- Queens Boulevard: This year, DOT completed a second phase of street redesign, transforming a 1.2-mile stretch from 74th Street to Eliot Avenue to include numerous safety improvements as well as a new protected bike lane. Once known as “the Boulevard of Death,” Queens Boulevard in 2016 had a second consecutive year without a single traffic fatality. In 1997, its worst year, Queens Boulevard had 18 pedestrian fatalities.
- Lowest-Ever Fatalities Among School-Aged Children (aged 5-17): No family should ever have to feel the tragic loss of a child from a traffic crash. This year, the City redesigned corridors and intersections and strengthened automated enforcement around schools. In addition, DOT and DOE collaborated to bring the Cross This Way curriculum to 4th through 6th grades citywide. Three children lost their lives on New York City streets, still an unacceptable number, but it was the fewest-ever annual traffic fatalities of children under 17. The previous five years have seen an average of 8 schoolchildren killed per year. As recently as 2004, 17 children were killed in a single year.
- Dusk and Darkness Initiative: An enforcement and education campaign dedicated to the fall and winter evening hours most dangerous to pedestrians, the Dusk and Darkness initiative yielded dramatic results after its announcement on : the fourth quarter of 2016 saw a 25 percent decline from the pre-Vision-Zero average of traffic fatalities (75 to 54). When the initiative began, New York City the number of people who had been killed in traffic crashes was above 2015 levels, but instead the year ended with a record-low number of fatalities.
- Left-Turn Treatments: After releasing a report in August, “Don’t Cut Corners,” that revealed how left turns lead to 3 times as many serious crashes as right turns, DOT began a pilot project to find ways to slow left turns at intersections around the five boroughs. DOT has completed the installation of those treatments at 107 intersections (86 in priority locations) – and will be evaluating and announcing results in 2017.
“The Cross This Way curriculum helps educate our youngest New Yorkers on how to safely navigate the City’s traffic as they travel to and from school each day,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “We are grateful to the Department of Transportation for their partnership and look forward to continuing to share these essential lessons with children across the City.”
“It is encouraging to see yet another record low number of traffic fatalities throughout the city,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “With our sister agencies, we are as determined as ever to reach the City’s goal of zero traffic fatalities. I thank Mayor de Blasio for implementing unprecedented, innovative efforts that recognize this as a public health issue.”
“NYC government operates the largest fleet in the five boroughs and City employees are doing their part to achieve Vision Zero, by reducing fatalities and injuries” said Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Lisette Camilo. “We have trained over 30,000 staff in safe driving and went a step further in 2016 and barred the use of phones, hands-free or hand-held, by all City fleet drivers.”
"Over the past three years, the TLC has worked closely with the taxi and for-hire sectors to weave Vision Zero into the everyday fabric of our licensees’ lives,” said TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi. “From our Safety Honor Roll, where this year alone we put almost 400 of the safest TLC-licensed drivers in NYC in the spotlight, to the 35,000 drivers who received TLC Driver Education with its strong Vision Zero component in 2016, our licensees have become active partners in our drive to reach Vision Zero. TLC also doubled the number of officers trained in the use of LIDAR anti-speeding technology, so that cutting edge enforcement continues to bolster our education and outreach efforts.”
"I commend Mayor de Blasio for his and his administration's efforts to combat traffic fatalities at a level that has become a national model," said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "While these numbers continue to drop, we cannot for one minute ease our efforts as pedestrians and cyclists remain at risk at a number of locations across the city. I know this administration is dedicated to redesigning these dangerous corridors and continuing to drive down traffic related deaths across the board. I'm eager to explore the successes and needs of Vision Zero in our upcoming committee hearing on ."
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