Why NYC’s Efforts to Fight Car Crash Deaths Suffered in 2020

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Recently released statistics reflect New York City’s struggles to keep its roadways safe in 2020.

According to New York City’s preliminary Mayor’s Management Report, road fatalities in the city rose 40% from July 1 to October 31, 2020, reaching a total of 106 deaths compared to the same period in 2019. As StreetsBlog details, the report also found that pedestrian deaths rose 16% in that period, while motorcyclist rose 80% and car driver fatalities “almost doubled” from 7% to 13%. These figures, Streetsblog argues, reflects the shortcomings in the city’s governance of its “dangerous roadways” when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, rolling back progress in its Vision Zero campaign to eliminate all traffic violence in New York City.

The article attributes the rise in fatalities to a few specific failures to implement traffic safety initiatives, the article argues. For one, the city “virtually stopped” installing speed humps during the period in question. It completely stopped installing speed boards, while the installation of “pavement safety markers” slowed by 19%. At the same time, the “installation of painted bike lanes” and the “installation of protected bike lanes” declined 40% and 9%, respectively. The city slowed its installation of “leading pedestrian intervals” by 70%, and cut the number of municipal employees “trained in defensive driving” by nearly 50%.

At the same time, Streetsblog observes, traffic enforcement slowed as well. During the period in question, “Total Vision Zero moving violations dropped by almost 65%,” with the NYPD issuing 32% fewer speeding tickets than in the same period in 2019; 60% fewer tickets for “driving while using a cell phone”; 77% fewer “failure-to-yield” tickets; and 42% fewer “right-of-way law tickets to drivers who struck a pedestrian or cyclist,” a total of 580.

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An analysis by Streetsblog attributes the rise in car crash deaths to infrastructure and enforcement failures.

Meanwhile the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission “almost eliminated” its issuance of moving violation summonses, with two issued during the four-month period in 2020 compared to 5,252 in 2019. Its total summonses issued fell almost 100%, from 15,000 to 343, according to StreetsBlog.

More information on traffic safety in New York City during the Covid-19 pandemic is available via Streetsblog and the Mayor’s Management Report.

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