Mayor Bill de Blasio Announces 2015 was Officially the Safest Year Ever on New York City Streets

January 19, 2016

Traffic fatalities down 22%—66 fewer lives lost—since 2013, before Vision Zero launched

Mayor announces $115 million in new capital funds to build on Vision Zero progress, including Safe Routes to Schools and traffic calming measures on key thoroughfares; City also piloting new initiative to test safer left turn designs

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and NYPD Transportation Chief Thomas Chan today announced that under the city’s Vision Zero program, 2015 was officially the safest year on New York City streets since record-keeping began in 1910.

The Mayor pledged to take Vision Zero further in 2016 by unveiling $115 million in new capital investment for plans to calm traffic, as well as expanded efforts to crack down on dangerous driving, make hazardous left-turns safer and expand enforcement.

“We are serious about saving lives. Vision Zero is working. Today there are children and grandparents who we might have lost, but who are instead coming home, safe and sound, because of these efforts. This progress is just the beginning, and Vision Zero is going to move ahead with even more intensity in the coming year,” said Mayor de Blasio.

The 231 traffic fatalities in 2015 are 66 lower than the 297 fatalities that occurred in 2013, the year before Vision Zero began. Pedestrian deaths — a historic low of 134 in 2015— fell 27% during that period. The previous lows were 2011 with 249 traffic fatalities and 2014 with 139 pedestrian fatalities. Comparatively, based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, U.S. pedestrian fatalities increased three percent in 2014 and are estimated to have increased again in 2015.

The City also released the Vision Zero Year-Two Report (available here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/visionzero/assets/vz-year-end-report.pdf) detailing the progress made in the last year. Today’s announcement was made along Queens Boulevard, where significant redesign and safety improvements have been nationally recognized.

“We at DOT are extremely proud that 2015 was the safest year on record for pedestrians on New York City’s streets. However, we recognize that any fatalities mean we have more work to do. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s leadership and vision, we will remain dedicated to making our streets safer for all,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

"Just as precision policing has assisted the NYPD in identifying areas of violent crime and in creating more targeted prevention and enforcement efforts, so too has this traffic and pedestrian safety initiative helped to zero-in on the most serious conditions and address them accordingly," said Police Commissioner William Bratton. "Vision Zero is a work in progress and it will continue to focus on effective traffic safety measures."

"We've made tremendous progress this past year and are grateful for the daily support that taxi and for-hire industry leaders and licensees have shown for the Mayor's vision,” said Meera Joshi, Commissioner and Chair of the Taxi and Limousine Commission. "We look forward to working with them even more closely in the coming year. There is much more to do, and we're ready."

“The City operates the largest municipal fleet in the nation and DCAS is proud to implement key initiatives that have contributed to today's announcement," said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. "We will continue to ensure that our fleet drivers are among the safest drivers on New York City's streets."

Among the city’s specific 2016 Priorities for Vision Zero:

More Safety Redesigns: The DOT has already begun planning and reaching out to communities in efforts to redesign more of the city’s crash-prone corridors and intersections, including extending the Queens Boulevard safety project further east, significant traffic calming and pedestrian improvements on Lower Grand Concourse, intersection improvements at Bay Street and Victory Boulevard in St. George, safety improvements along Astoria Boulevard and traffic calming on Brooklyn's Meeker Avenue.

The $115 million in new capital investment includes nearly $59.4 million for Safe Routes to Schools at 37 schools around the City; $29.6 million for area-wide improvements in Long Island City; $4.1 million in additional funds for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway project; and $22 million for projects on Tillary Street in Downtown Brooklyn, 25th Street Plaza in Manhattan, Allen and Pike Street Pedestrian Malls in Manhattan, Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway and North Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.

Safer Left Turns: Left turns account for nearly 30% of fatal and serious injury pedestrian crashes. The City is undertaking a 100-intersection pilot initiative to test safer left turn designs. These treatments will be evaluated to determine if they increase motorists yielding to pedestrians, slow vehicle turns and improve safety. If successful, they will be expanded to additional sites across the City.

Safer Bicycle Routes: Building on the record 12 miles of physically-protected bike lanes created in 2015, the most in a single year, and the success of those designs reducing crashes for both cyclists and pedestrians, DOT is planning to install protected lanes along Amsterdam Avenue, 1st Avenue, 2nd Avenue and 6th Avenue in Manhattan, as well as a two-way protected bike lane on 20th Avenue as part of upgrades to the Queens Waterfront Greenway.

Targeted NYPD Enforcement to Protect Seniors: Seniors comprise 13% of the city’s population but accounted for 38% of the city’s pedestrian fatalities in 2015. The NYPD is undertaking aggressive enforcement against dangerous driving near the city’s 250 senior centers, as well as locations where many seniors live and walk. From January 25 to January 31, the NYPD will be conducting its first senior-focused enforcement initiative of 2016, with every precinct focused on traffic enforcement in areas of our city where seniors walk.

Increased Use of Speed Enforcement Cameras: Speed cameras work. Violations for excessive speeding in a school zones typically declined by half at locations after speed cameras were installed. But under state law, cameras’ hours of operation are restricted to school hours, on days when school is in session and they are only deployable on streets abutting a school building. DOT analysis shows that 85% of injuries and fatalities occur on streets and during times when speed cameras are not authorized to issue violations. The City will work to pass legislation in Albany to expand the hours and streets to target the times and locations where crashes most often occur.

Earlier Education: The Department of Education and the DOT will work together to incorporate a Vision Zero curriculum designed for 4th to 6th graders starting in the 2016-2017 school year and disseminate vital information to parents and caregivers to curb dangerous driving behavior, especially near schools.

"Our collective Vision Zero initiatives are saving lives," said Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. "This year, more children, more fathers, more mothers and brothers will join their families at home than last year because of Vision Zero initiatives like the redesigning of Queens Boulevard. The dynamic changes to streetscape and traffic calming have made our City a safer place to live, walk, cycle and drive than at any point in the last fifty years. Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Trottenberg and the entire New York City Council who have remained ever vigilant in the quest to bring the total number of pedestrian deaths from vehicles to zero."

"The de Blasio administration is proving every day so that it can hang its hat on making our streets safer," said Council Member and Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "The initiative, investments and policies put into place by Mayor de Blasio, and supported by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my colleagues at the Council, are helping to change the way New Yorkers use our streets, thereby saving lives. For two straight years, we have set records for the fewest deaths on our streets– ever, but we are not done. The third year in this ambitious plan will be about building on our accomplishments and taking Vision Zero to the next level: stricter enforcement against dangerous behavior, cracking down on hit and run drivers, redesigning and rebuilding more troublesome intersections and streets and finally, a real commitment to letting New Yorkers and other drivers in our city know that their choices matter and poor ones can have devastating consequences.”

"As a member of the City Council, my top priority is keeping New Yorkers safe. I was proud to work with the Mayor to help develop Vision Zero and pass key pieces of its legislation, and I am even prouder of the results we have seen all across the City. The bottom line is that thanks to Vision Zero we are saving lives,” said Council Member David Greenfield.

"The 2015 results from Vision Zero have demonstrated that we have the ability to increase safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists on our roads,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “I have used the power of my office in innovative ways to improve traffic safety by launching the Connecting Residents on Safer Streets initiative, a capital investment in extending sidewalks and modernizing traffic signals at high-priority intersections, as well as by utilizing the land use process to call for improved transportation choice and safer streets throughout the borough. I will continue to work with Mayor de Blasio on redesigning streetscapes to improve safety in the future, including Atlantic Avenue and other dangerous corridors across Brooklyn."

“Tragically, we have lost too many members of our community to the dangerous conditions on our roads. And in the City that does more walking than anywhere else in America, we owe it to our family, friends and neighbors to do everything we can to make these streets safer,” said Congressman Joseph Crowley. “I thank Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg for making pedestrian safety a top priority and for following through on such a critical initiative. Vision Zero has clearly saved lives, and I look forward to continuing to work with the City on ways to further reduce the amount of injuries and fatalities in our communities.” 

“The Vision Zero program continues to demonstrate our commitment to safer streets and fewer fatalities,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “Our community is safer for pedestrians and cyclists alike, and I look forward to the day when we can celebrate zero deaths on our streets from reckless driving."

"We commend Mayor de Blasio for beginning year three of Vision Zero with strong new initiatives to make traffic death and injury statistics fall even further and faster," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "If we're going to get to zero by 2024, these are just the kinds of measures we need: more resources to fix the most dangerous streets, and a new push to strengthen equitable, data-driven enforcement, which must include an increased use of speed cameras across the City."

Highlights from 2015:

Engineering:

  • 80 Vision Zero safety improvement projects—60 of which were created at priority locations identified in the Vision Zero Borough Plans, including a protected bike lane and traffic calming on Queens Boulevard.
  • Installation of 417 leading pedestrian intervals that give pedestrians a head start crossing streets
  • A record 12.4 miles of new protected bike lanes, making NYC’s bike network over 1,000 miles long.

Enforcement:

  • The NYPD issued nearly 40,000 Failure to Yield violations, nearly triple what had been issued annually between 2011 and 2013, prior to Vision Zero.
  • The NYPD issued over 134,000 Speeding violations, a 75% increase compared to the average between 2011 and 2013.
  • Installation of 140 speed cameras in authorized zones, with close to 1.5 million violations issued since the program began in 2014. On average, speeding declined by 50% at fixed camera locations.

Education and Awareness:

  • Since the Your Choices Matter campaign began, 86 percent of surveyed motorists report that they will drive more carefully and yield to pedestrians when turning and approaching crosswalks, with 87 percent reporting that they will avoid using their phone when driving.
  • Street Teams reached over 500,000 people, with education followed by targeted enforcement, resulting in over 17,000 moving violations, 24,000 parking violations and 128 traffic-related arrests.
  • DOT worked with approximately 600 schools and 100 senior centers

Fleets:

  • DCAS retrofitted 250 City trucks with side guards to protect pedestrian and cyclists
  • TLC released Drive Like Your Family Lives Here, an educational video required for cab drivers and other City drivers.
  • TLC began a pilot program to test crash avoidance technology and systems that can combat driver inattention and fatigue
  • DCAS is also working with other City agencies to install devices on City vehicles to monitor and report whether vehicles are speeding, making hard stops or are otherwise driven in an aggressive manner. The devices have so far been installed in 20,000 vehicles.

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