Vision Zero: De Blasio Administration Announces Major Dusk And Darkness Safety Initiative At Start Of Most Dangerous Season On City Streets

October 27, 2016

Drivers should obey the speed limit, slow down, yield to pedestrians when turning and expect heightened enforcement

As evening darkness increases and daylight saving time ends, the danger to pedestrians, especially seniors, dramatically increases; DOT data shows severe pedestrian crashes increase by 40 percent in the late afternoon and evening hours from November through March

NEW YORK—The de Blasio Administration today announced that New York City was redoubling its efforts around Vision Zero as the City enters what has traditionally been the deadliest time of year for pedestrians on New York City streets. Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, NYPD Chief Thomas M. Chan, TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi and Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado came together for the release at One Police Plaza in Manhattan. The Commissioners together announced new elements to the Vision Zero initiative to address what has traditionally been an autumn upturn in crashes involving pedestrians – especially seniors – as the sun sets during the evening rush.

“While we've made important strides to see that New Yorkers are safer than they were before Vision Zero, one death is one too many and there's still so much more we can do,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “To meet our ambitious Vision Zero goals, especially during the more dangerous reality of this season’s evenings and nights, we have focused our efforts even further. Our key Vision Zero agencies have teamed up to not only study crash data, but to work closely together and make critical adjustments that we believe will literally save lives.”

DOT conducted a close analysis of year-over-year crash trends – and observed the following:

  • The earlier onset of darkness in the fall and winter is highly correlated to an increase in traffic injuries and fatalities (see “heat map”). Severe crashes involving pedestrians increase by nearly 40 percent in the early evening hours compared to crashes outside the fall and winter.
  • Lower visibility during the dark hours of the colder months leads to twice as many crashes involving turns.
  • In 2015, the year with the fewest traffic fatalities in New York City’s recorded history, 40 percent of the year’s pedestrian fatalities occurred after October 1.
  • Daylight saving time ended last year on November 1, 2015; in the eight days following last year’s “fall-back” clock change, nine New York City pedestrians lost their lives, one of the deadliest periods of the entire year. All of the victims were between 55 and 88 years old and only three of those deaths occurred during daylight hours.

“As the days get shorter and the weather colder, crashes on our streets involving pedestrians increase – and so we are enlisting data-driven strategies to address that upturn,” said DOT Commissioner Trottenberg. “Through education and enforcement with our sister agencies, every driver needs to learn about the limited visibility of this season and the dangers of fast turns, especially in the evening hours. Re-engineered intersections like the one at the Manhattan Bridge will also make crossing our busiest streets safer for everybody.”

"The NYPD takes the safety of all users of our City’s streets and roadways seriously and will play an active role in mitigating a potential spike in traffic fatalities as daylight saving time ends," said NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas M. Chan. "There will be citywide Vision Zero enforcement activity during the evening peak hours, as well as a continuation of our education initiatives. This combination of efforts has been yielding positive results since the inception of Vision Zero."

“Vehicle-pedestrian crashes disproportionately affect older New Yorkers, who are 13 percent of the population and accounted for 38 percent of pedestrian fatalities in 2015,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Corrado. “Our Vision Zero day of awareness will highlight the important issue of pedestrian safety for not only elders, but New Yorkers of all ages.”

“Every driver, and especially our professional licensees, understand the challenges that seasonal driving presents, but with the earlier dusk coinciding with such a busy time for pedestrians, it is urgent that they be especially vigilant,” said Commissioner and Chair of the Taxi and Limousine Commission Meera Joshi. “The decrease in visibility poses a very real danger. It is essential for the increased risk this presents to be on every driver’s mind.”

Starting early Friday morning, DOT and NYPD street teams will engage in a Citywide “Day of Awareness,” distributing more than a million palm cards to educate drivers and other New Yorkers at high-priority Vision Zero target areas across all five boroughs. The palm cards underscore a pre-enforcement message about speeding, failure to yield and the dangers posed by increasing darkness in the fall – reminding drivers that with less sunlight, they will have less time to react to the unexpected.

The following are the Vision Zero multi-agency initiatives being pursued over the next few months:

Enforcement

  • Increased Evening/ Nighttime Enforcement: NYPD will focus additional enforcement resources on the most hazardous violations (speeding and failure-to-yield to pedestrians), with precincts increasing their on-street presence around sunset hours when data show serious pedestrian crashes increase.
  • Focus on Priority Locations: NYPD will deploy additional Traffic Safety personnel to provide coverage at intersections and corridors with high rates of pedestrian injuries and fatal crashes during key dusk and darkness hours.
  • Focused Initiatives Cracking Down on Dangerous Driving Behaviors: In October, November and December the NYPD will launch a series of initiatives to promote concentrated enforcement on speeding, cellphone/texting, failure to yield to pedestrians, blocked bicycle lanes, and other hazardous violations.
  • Drunk or Impaired Driving: NYPD will also focus resources on drunk-driving efforts, as the evening and nighttime hours in the fall and winter have historically been when the incidence of DWI also increases.
  • Taxis and For-Hire Vehicles: TLC inspectors will conduct speed enforcement to deter speeding among for-hire vehicle operators.

Education

  • “Day of Awareness:” NYPD and DOT street teams will tomorrow be educating and engaging drivers and other New Yorkers at different Vision Zero priority areas in all five boroughs, including: in Co-op City, at the Hub and along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx; in Washington Heights, near Grand Central & Penn Stations and along Canal Street in Manhattan; in Jamaica Center, on Main Street, Flushing and along Queens Boulevard in Queens; in Downtown Brooklyn and along Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn; and near both Staten Island Ferry Terminals.
  • Targeted Messaging to Drivers to Obey Speed Limit and Yield to Pedestrians: The award-winning Vision Zero “Your Choices Matter” campaign will expand this fall with fresh content, including new radio advertisements timed to air specifically around sunset hours. In this new campaign, listeners will be educated to the correlation between darkness and crashes – and reminded to lower their speeds and to turn slowly.
  • Daylight Saving Awareness: As it did in the spring when clocks “sprung forward,” DOT will lead a public-awareness campaign around the end of Daylight Saving Time, when DOT statistics from 2010-2014 show that serious collisions in early evening increase by approximately 40 percent. This year, Daylight Savings Time will end at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 6.
  • Senior Center Outreach: Older adults who attend DFTA’s network of senior centers have received education and outreach focused on improving safety conditions in their neighborhoods and sharing tips for getting around safely, presented by NYC DOT and NYPD.
  • Taxi Driver Outreach: TLC will educate for-hire drivers to the need to be cautious through text messages, the distribution of more than 20,000 palm cards and other channels. In addition, Vision Zero ads will run on Taxi TV, providing another opportunity to reach the broader public.
  • “Cross This Way” Curriculum: The expanded Vision Zero traffic-safety curriculum for 4th through 6th graders, announced by DOT and DOE in September, will continue to be taught in public schools throughout the fall and winter season.
  • Left Turns: Left turns cause three times as many fatal and severe pedestrian injury crashes as right turns. NYPD will distribute 150,000 palm cards and use variable message boards to advise motorists of their responsibility to yield to pedestrians when making left turns.

Street Design

  • Record Number of Upgraded Corridors and Intersections: DOT expects to complete at least 90 Safety Improvement Projects in 2016, the most ever completed in a single calendar year, including expanded pedestrian space, protected bike lanes, corridor improvements, and intersection treatments.
  • Manhattan Bridge Safety Improvements: The largest project completed this year, the Canal Street entrance to the Manhattan Bridge, had previously been among New York City’s most dangerous intersections for pedestrians. Between 2010-2014, over 147 people were injured at the intersection, five of them seriously, with one person killed. The $1.5 million project dramatically improves safety at the intersection with new signals, concrete curb extensions, along with extended and widened medians. Pedestrian crossings were shortened at most street crossings around the mouth of the bridge, which also saw its traffic lanes permanently reconfigured to provide more predictability for pedestrians.
  • Improved Lighting at Intersections: By the end of 2016, DOT expects to complete lighting upgrades at 1,000 priority intersections throughout the City, adding additional lamps to increase visibility over crosswalks. In addition, the agency is converting older sodium street lights to higher-intensity LED, which makes pedestrians and cyclists more conspicuous, and reduces the capacity for nighttime crashes. LED bulbs also offer the benefits of longer life at an overall lower cost.

“As it begins to get darker early, drivers need to be more aware than ever of pedestrians and cyclists on our streets,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation. “This means fewer quick turns at intersections and lower speeds at all times. Drivers have the most responsibility on our streets and caution should always be prioritized to avoid serious injuries and death.”

Council Member Antonio Reynoso said, “Pedestrian safety is top priority throughout the year and especially during these months of early nightfall. I would like to thank the DOT and the NYPD for their research and for guiding us to safer, people-friendly streets.”

In 2016, as part of Vision Zero, DOT has implemented its most aggressive street redesign safety program, with increased investment in street redesign and traffic-calming measures citywide. DOT has also improved the safety at a record number of dangerous intersections and thoroughfares, installing more than 18 miles of protected bike lanes along key high traffic corridors like Queens Boulevard, 6th Avenue, Chrystie Street, Jay Street, and Amsterdam Avenue and installed a record number of leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) – more than 500 – to give pedestrians a head start while crossing the street.

For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see www.nyc.gov/visionzero.

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