Vision Zero and Efforts to Reduce Injuries and Deaths on New York Streets

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in January 2014 the City’s adoption of Vision Zero to reduce fatal accidents on the City’s streets. Vision Zero recognizes that traffic injuries and deaths are not mere accidents but, instead, preventable incidents.

While traffic fatalities in New York have decreased by 34 percent since 2005, City legislators say more can and should be done.

Vision Zero Background

Vision Zero began in October 1997 in Sweden with the goal of creating a highway system with no serious injuries or fatalities due to road traffic. Vision Zero operates on several principles:

  • Ethics: human life and health take priority over every aspect of the road system
  • Responsibility: must be shared by users, providers, and regulators of the road system
  • Safety: traffic systems should seek to minimize the potential of human error and resulting harm
  • Mechanisms for change: cooperation among road users, providers, and regulators is critical to guarantee human safety
  • Traffic-related injuries and deaths are unacceptable and preventable
  • Traffic safety solutions should be holistic
  • Safety is the primary consideration in any road system

In New York

The statistics are staggering. In New York alone, approximately 4,000 individuals are seriously injured with over 250 killed each year as a result of traffic accidents. In fact, being hit by a vehicle is the leading cause of death for children under the age of 14, and the second leading cause for the elderly.

According to a report by the New York Police Department, in May 2016 alone there were 19,911 motor vehicle accidents, with 3,815 of them resulting in injury or death. The majority of vehicles involved were passenger and sports utility vehicles, and the most common reason for accidents was driver inattention/distraction which occurred in 5,699 collisions.

Of the boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens had the most accidents (over 5,600 each), and Staten Island had the fewest with 1,122. For a complete breakdown by precinct and borough, including the number of fatalities, injuries, reasons for accidents, and other data, the report can be accessed here.

Vision Zero and the Future

The City’s adoption of Vision Zero comes with it a host of new commitments and tools designed to improve street safety throughout the state. Among the issues to be addressed include:

  • Enhanced law enforcement against dangerous drivers
  • New street designs
  • Increased public outreach, communication, and collaboration
  • Sweeping legislation to increase penalties for dangerous drivers

Proponents of the Vision Zero system cite the success seat belt laws had in increasing seat belt use from 20 percent in 1985 to over 88 percent today.

Improving New York’s road system safety requires not only government and legislative action but also citizen participation in cultivating a mutually beneficial partnership toward the common goal of safer streets for everyone.

To view an interactive map of all New York traffic accidents, please visit the Vision Zero site.

At Abend & Silber we understand how serious injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents can cause pain and suffering for the victim and their family. We fully support efforts to reduce the number of accidents and injuries in New York.

For more information, please contact us.

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