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An Alarming Surge In The Number Of NYC Traffic Deaths

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Traffic fatalities this year have reached an all-time high in New York City. One of the city’s leading safe streets advocacy organizations, Transportation Alternatives, has reported that there were 59 fatalities during the first three months of 2022. 

This statistic represents a 44% increase from the previous year’s first quarterly report. 

If this trend continues, New York City is on track to surpass 2021’s total of 273 traffic fatalities – the highest annual death total since 2013. 

In addition, this would continue the trend of four consecutive years of rising traffic, an observation which has not occurred since 1990. 

Danny Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives stated “ From children in Queens to seniors in Brookly, too many New Yorkers are killed simply waiting for the bus or crossing the street, and the numbers are only increasing. Our leaders must take steps immediately to save New Yorkers and prevent this year from turning into another record-breaking year for traffic fatalities”. 

The largest spikes of traffic fatalities have been recorded in Queens and Manhatten, which saw a respective increase of 125% and 120%. 

Additionally, when analyzing the data it is evident that a disproportionate amount of these fatalities occurred on streets that have speed limits exceeding 25 miles per hour. 

Although less than 10% of the city’s streets have speed limits above this threshold, roughly 24% of the recorded fatalities occurred on such streets. 

The city Department of Transportation (DOT) is committed to halting this upward trajectory by implementing safety improvements at 1,000 intersections city-wide. 

This should have a large impact, considering accidents at intersections account for approximately 50% of all traffic fatalities and 70% of all injuries. 

Vin Barone, spokesman for the Department of Transportation stated “ The safety of New Yorkers is our number one priority. We are proud of the work we have done to curb traffic deaths and we understand there is still much more to do. The agency is working around the clock to increase the number of safety measures and eliminate traffic deaths in New York City,” said DOT spokesman Vin Barone.”

In hopes of reducing the alarming number of fatalities, both the safe streets advocates and New York City officials are calling on the capital to grant the city “home rule” over its streets. 

Danny Harris stated “Albany must grant New York City home rule over traffic safety so we can make immediate use of the life-saving effectiveness of our existing red light and speed safety camera programs. In this time of crisis, New York City needs more groundbreakings — not vigils.” 

If the state grants the city’s request, the “home rule” would allow NYC to make changes to initiatives such as the speed camera program without seeking additional state legislative approval. 

In addition, implementing this rule would give the city full control over the red light camera program, automated bus lane enforcement program, and the power to control local speed limits (which are currently set at the state level). 

During a recent press conference, Mayor Eric Adams stated “My job is to prevent New Yorkers from dying in our streets, and I need Albany to give me the tools to do my job. I want New Yorkers to hold me accountable for my decisions and my results, and that means I need home rule control over our speed cameras and red-light cameras. 

If “home rule” is granted, the city plans to eradicate the existing limitations on when speed cameras are allowed to operate. Currently, the city’s speed cameras only operate on weekdays from 6 am to 10 pm. 

City officials hope to have the cameras active 24/7, due to statistics that indicate that most fatal crashes occur during hours in which the cameras are not currently operating. 

In addition to calling for “home rule”, safe street advocates are also urging the city and state to implement other preventative methods including fully funding the NYC streets Plan. 

This plan includes new measures such as street safety redesigns and additional cycling and transit infrastructure in the upcoming city budget. 

The city council has already committed $3.1 billion in funding for the program, but advocates are continuing to emphasize the necessity of the plan to ensure that it is included in the mayor’s final budget. 

Danny Harris stated “The Mayor must include the City Council’s $3.1 billion ask to fund the NYC Streets Plan in the City’s final budget while working with DOT to fast-track redesigns of dangerous corridors and redesign 1,000 intersections.”

Lastly, major efforts have also been made to convince the state capitol to pass the Crash Victims Rights and Safety act, a package of eight bills making its way through the street legislature. This act is designated to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities occurring within the streets of New York. 

State Senator Jessica Ramos stated “The need to pass the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act, strengthen the dangerous vehicle abatement program, and redesign our intersections is not just a quality of life issue — it’s also a worker safety issue for Deliveristas, for-hire and livery drivers, and anyone who relies on public roads and space to make a living.” 

If you or a loved one has been impacted by A New York City car accident, please contact the attorneys at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman.

 Our team is well versed in helping victims receive compensation for automobile accidents. No matter how careful you are, there are many inattentive and dangerous drivers on the roads. All too often, these negligent motorists cause accidents that result in devastating injuries. In turn, these injuries can be very serious with permanent health consequences. Accidents can also result in a significant loss of income when injured individuals have to take time off work to recover or are unable to return to work due to new disabilities.

At Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP, our experienced team knows how to guide you through what may be a very difficult and challenging time. We thoroughly investigate accidents by obtaining accident reports and talking with police when necessary. We make it a priority to investigate any potential insurance coverage that can pay for your medical bills, as well.

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