VISION ZERO: NYC TRAFFIC FATALITIES DROPPED IN 2022 FOR FIRST TIME IN THREE YEARS, PEDESTRIAN DEATHS NEAR RECORD LOWS
Traffic fatalities stabilize after three-year rise, down 14.7% since 2013, the year before implementation of Vision Zero
Pedestrian deaths drop 6.3% from 2021, continue to defy national trends
In 2023, Adams administration will focus on reckless driving, work with Albany to hold drivers with a history of dangerous behavior accountable
New York, — New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez announced that in 2022 the city experienced a decline in traffic fatalities for the first time since 2019, with among the fewest annual pedestrian deaths recorded in history. Amidst a nationwide increase in traffic fatalities, New York City’s overall traffic fatalities fell in 2022 by 6.6%. Pedestrian fatalities decreased by 6.3%, also defying national trends.
New York City continues to defy national trends around pedestrian deaths, which are nationally at a four-decade high. Traffic fatalities were down in 4 of the 5 major travel modes DOT tracks. Compared to 2013, the last year before implementation of Vision Zero, New York City traffic deaths have dropped by 14.7%, from 299 deaths that year. Pedestrian deaths have decreased by 35.9% when compared to 2013 figures. Cyclist fatalities were also down for the third straight year (17 in 2022, down from a 20-year high of 28 in 2019) — declining even as bicycle ridership has soared in recent years.
“Across the board, the numbers are clear: New York City is getting safer,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “While traffic fatalities rise across the country, we are taking major actions like improving 1,400 intersections and turning on speed cameras 24/7 — making our streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. Even as we see significant progress, our North Star remains Vision Zero, and we will continue working towards a day when no one dies from traffic violence in New York City.”
“NYC continues to increase the number of tools in our street safety toolbox to help us keep our streets safer, including 24/7 speed cameras and better street intersection design. These interventions saved lives. ” says Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Thank you to all the City agencies who work tirelessly towards making our streets safer for all pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, and special gratitude to our partners up in Albany who helped grow our street safety toolbox. I look forward to continuing to work with everyone as we develop more interventions.”
“Streets are our great equalizer; every single person in New York City utilizes our roadways in some fashion, which is why street safety affects the entire public in a way that no other issue does,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III. “No one should lose their life just because they’re moving through our city. The strategies we’ve employed are working, and this will continue to be a top priority for this administration.”
“The safety of all New Yorkers remains DOT’s number one priority entering the New Year,” said DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “We are proud that last year saw some encouraging trends, but Mayor Adams has made it clear that where traffic fatalities city-wide are concerned, the only acceptable number is zero. As we enter the New Year, I want to thank the people of the DOT who work tirelessly to build the safest, most efficient, and inclusive transportation system in the nation – and who are committed to ending traffic violence.”
During 2022, DOT gave special focus to pedestrian safety at intersections, where a majority of pedestrian fatalities and injuries occur. In January, the Adams administration announced the city would improve 1,000 intersections – and the DOT has exceeded that target, completing more than 1,400 intersection improvements through a variety of treatments, including intersection redesigns, signal upgrades, all-way stop installations, daylighting, turn calming, and raised crosswalks. Injury and severe injury analysis shows DOT’s treatments are effective; through the aggressive deployment of these tools, DOT has driven traffic deaths to historic lows in the Vision Zero era.
In 2022, DOT worked with state lawmakers to expand school zone speed camera enforcement program to 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The expansion more than doubled the hours of operation, which were limited to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Since the launch of 24-hour operations on Aug. 1, DOT has experienced a 25% reduction in violations, with month-over-month declines. In August, cameras recorded more than 755,000 speeding violations, followed by approximately 661,000 violations in September, 586,000 in October, and 565,000 in November.
Particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, speeding and reckless driving have been leading causes of traffic fatalities, especially on highways. In 2023, the DOT will continue working with city and state elected leaders on legislative proposals aimed at increasing accountability among reckless drivers and keeping drivers with a history of dangerous behavior off the roads. In December, the agency announced one such proposal: legislation that would curb drunk driving by lowering the DWI blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold from .08 to .05%.
“Every New Yorker should feel safe when they use our streets and sidewalks and improving safety on our streets must be our first priority every year,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “The City’s investments in our streetscape are making a real difference for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists in all five boroughs, but with 25 lives tragically lost on Manhattan streets in 2022, we know we have a lot of work to do. I’m grateful that the Mayor, Commissioner Rodriguez and stakeholders across the city are prioritizing this work, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work to improve our streets and sidewalks in 2023.”
“Safe streets mean our neighbors are unafraid to walk to the store, our kids are able to walk to school, and visitors can explore all our borough has to offer. They underscore a strong local economy and a vibrant sense of community, and we must continue to advance the policies that will build on this momentum,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “I want to commend Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez for his work toward Vision Zero and look forward to expanding efforts to return our streets to the people of this borough.”
“Even just one death on our streets is one too many, and our work must continue until every mile of roadway in this city is truly safe for all New Yorkers, regardless of how they get around. But the statistics show that our collective efforts to protect our neighbors thus far have gotten us closer to that ultimate goal,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “I commend the Department of Transportation for its tireless work, our community leaders for their advocacy and all those involved in the critical work of making our streets safer every single day. Together, we can and we will save lives.”
“The decrease in traffic fatalities this year is proof of one thing: that using all the tools we have to make our streets safer works,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “Since my bill to turn our speed cameras on 24/7 was passed, we’ve seen speeding drop 25%: a great start, but still not enough. The only acceptable number of New Yorkers killed by traffic violence is zero, and I remain deeply committed to working alongside my colleagues in all levels of government until we get there.”
“The city is taking proactive steps to ensure that it’s safe for pedestrians to traverse the vast expanses of our city,” said State Senator John Liu, sponsor of S776 to lower the state’s legal blood alcohol content from .08 to .05 for DWI. “This new data shows these efforts are paying off in spades, and we are finally beginning to take a detour away from years of pedestrian and cycling dangers. The city’s work coupled with our efforts in the state legislature to lower the legal blood alcohol content from .08 to .05, can make real progress toward our shared goals of creating truly safe streets for everyone.”
“We all must do our part to keep New York City roads safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists, and I am pleased to see that measures put in place last year were successful in reducing the number of traffic fatalities. I’m proud of my continued partnership with NYC-DOT which resulted in the passage of my bill expanding school zone speed cameras to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These are one of the best objective tools we have to keep our streets safe, and it is gratifying to see the expanded program already yielding results. I commend Mayor Adams and Commissioner Rodriguez for the work they are doing to address traffic violence, and I look forward to continuing our partnership in the new legislative session.” said Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick
Banner Image: Traffic lights. Image Credit – Moritz Kindler