NEW YORK, New York — Five years ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his Vision Zero plan designed to eliminate all traffic deaths in the City of New York. Statistics show that the plan showed signs of promise for a little while, but sadly the trend reversed. The New York Times reported that 221 people died in traffic crashes in New York City in 2019. The trend is heading upward for 2020 as well. In 2019, 124 pedestrians died in car crashes, and 28 bicycle riders also died. The remaining 69 people who were killed died while riding in motor vehicles.
City Hall cannot fix the problem until it identifies the causes of fatal car crashes. Pedestrian and bicycle deaths have not risen exclusively because of pedestrians running into traffic and bicycle riders who believe they own the road. NYPD officers report that only five percent of fatal accidents were caused by pedestrian or cyclist error. Three fatalities occurred, however, when a pedestrian and a bicycle rider collided.
The overwhelming majority of fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents in New York occurred because of negligent driving, motorists not paying attention, speeding, and the motorist failing to yield the right of way to the bicycle rider or pedestrian. Drivers disregarding traffic signs or signals is another significant cause of fatal pedestrian and bike crashes in New York City. Alcohol consumption played a role in five fatal crashes, and five other people died when motorists unsafely backed up.
NYPD says that its officers are committed to reducing traffic deaths to zero in the City. Notwithstanding the department’s commitment, police rarely arrest or charge drivers with crimes relating to pedestrian or bike deaths. Four drivers involved in 28 bicycle deaths were arrested in 2019 by NYPD officers. Another eight drivers received a traffic summons for speeding, unsafely opening a door into traffic and unsafe passing. These driving behaviors also accounted for about 60,000 pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular accident injuries.
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