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Vision Zero initiative sees New York City's traffic fatalities fall to record low

Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that under its Vision Zero program, New York City (NYC) had ended the first half of 2018 with the fewest traffic fatalities ever measured in any six-month period.

As of June 30, the city had recorded 81 fatalities, the lowest ever in a six-month period, and only the second time that fewer than 100 lives had been lost in a half-year period. The mayor also noted how the data continues to show New York City bucking national fatality trends, giving much of the credit to the speed-camera law, which because of State Senate inaction, now faces expiration later this month.

The Vision Zero highlights from the first six months of 2018 include that fatalities are down or even in all transportation modes except among motorbikes. Cyclist fatalities dropped from 10 to 7, motor vehicle occupant fatalities fell from 27 to 15, and pedestrian fatalities remained at 47. However, motorcyclist fatalities increased from 11 to 12.

Traffic fatalities have declined for four consecutive years under its Vision Zero initiative. Over that time, NYC has embraced a multi-faceted variety of changes in education, engineering and enforcement, including:

• Lowering the city’s default speed limit to 25mph (40km/h);
• Targeting priority geographies in every borough through a historic number of street redesign projects;
• Adding over 2,000 new Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs) that serve as pedestrian head-starts;
• Calming dangerous left-turns;
• Adding more than 60 miles (100km) of protected bike lanes;
• Increased enforcement by NYPD of the city’s traffic laws.

In addition to its robust camera enforcement program for speeding, NYC also used automated enforcement against drivers who run red lights and drive in bus lanes.

However, the speed camera enforcement program faces potential shutdown within weeks if the State Senate fails to act on its renewal and expansion. The program resulted in a 63% decline in speeding violations at a typical school-zone camera location, and 81% of vehicle owners who received a violation within a school zone did not receive a second violation.

State legislation currently allows for 140 school zone locations; legislation in Albany has passed the Assembly that would increase the number of zones to 290 and expand the enforcement area to within a quarter-mile of schools.

The NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has noted that 84% of deaths and severe injuries between 2012 and 2016 occurred at times or locations where cameras are prohibited. The renewal bill has 33 sponsors in the Senate where only 32 votes are needed to pass any given bill. However, it still needs to be brought to a vote on the floor.

“No loss of life on our streets is acceptable,” said de Blasio. “Under Vision Zero, we have made enormous strides toward safer streets for all, with traffic fatalities declining for the past four-and-a-half-years. But we will never rest on our laurels, and will keep fighting for the safety of our fellow New Yorkers. The State Senate’s failure to act on speed cams puts this progress, and the lives of school children, at risk. They must act now; lives are at stake.”

July 16, 2018

Written by Adam Frost

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