The rising death toll has the city preaching caution as he head into the deadliest six weeks of the year.
Queens personal injury attorneys will note a significant increase in traffic fatalities, including bicycle and pedestrian accidents, in the most recent mayor’s report. The uptick has officials scrambling for answers after substantial investment in traffic-calming devices and other safety measures had been hailed for reducing the number of serious and fatal crashes in recent years.
But as we have reported, injury attorneys anticipated an increase in accidents with the improving economy. However, the size of the increase has still come as a shock for many.
-Fatal accidents increased by 23 percent from July 2011 to July 2012 — from 236 to 291. That’s the first increase since 2007, when the city reported 310 fatalities.
-New York City bicycle accidents or pedestrian accidents claimed 176 lives, up from 158 last year.
-The number of motorists and passengers killed in traffic accidents more than doubled, from 78 last year to 158 this year.
While these mid-year numbers are hard to compare to the annual tallies released after the first of the year, all signs point to a significant increase in the number of serious and fatal crashes.
More than half of motorist and passenger fatalities (54 percent) were blamed on speeding, driving while intoxicated, or running a red light or stop sign.
Also of concern: The crashes appeared concentrated along stretches of highway — far from the neighborhood areas targeted with traffic-calming devices and other safety measures.
The administration told the Times some of the increase can be blamed on distracted driving and distracted walking — both targets of the city’s LOOK campaign.
“I don’t think that the iPhone has invented an app yet that will ping you when you hit a crosswalk,” said NYDOT Commissioner Ms. Sadik-Khan said. “That breakup text can wait.”
However, critics contend the Bloomberg administration has been too quick to take credit for the reduction in traffic accidents in recent years, amid a host of ongoing safety initiatives.
It’s not a problem unique to New York City: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports traffic fatalities nationwide were up 13.5 percent in the first quarter.
While traffic accidents may have reached a low point in 2011, the risks are still substantial. According to the New York Department of Transportation, more than 307,000 crashes were reported in 2011, injuring nearly 130,000 and claiming 1,077 lives.
Pedestrian accidents killed 296, while New York bicycle accidents claimed 57 lives. Most of those occurred in New York City, which reported 143 pedestrian deaths and 22 cycling fatalities.
The six weeks between the start of Thanksgiving travel and the end of the year are typically the deadliest on the nation’s roads. Early darkness and bad weather do not mix well with heavy traffic. The risks of drunk-driving accidents increase. And pedestrians will be out in force through the holiday shopping season. Be careful and do your part to reduce accident risks for everyone.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations to accidents victims. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Deaths Rise for Drivers, Bikers and Walkers on City Streets, by Matt Flegenheimer, The New York Times, Sept. 26, 2012.