Health Department Releases New Traffic Fatality Reports on Pedestrians and Motor Vehicle Occupants

The reports identify the differences in the burden of traffic injury and death among neighborhoods, as well as among age, race and ethnic groups

After three straight years of reducing fatalities, New York City’s Vision Zero initiative continues to focus on addressing the disparities outlined in the briefs

March 24, 2017 — The Health Department today released two Epi Data Briefs on traffic fatalities in New York City between 2012 and 2014. These newly published reports — “Pedestrian Fatalities in New York City” and “Motor Vehicle Occupant Fatalities in New York City” — use data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to describe demographic and geographic patterns among traffic deaths. The reports also identify differences in the burden of traffic injuries among neighborhoods and between age, race and ethnic groups. The data in both Epi Data Briefs, which can be found here, serve as a reminder that Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative also advances the City’s equity goals. In January, the Mayor announced that New York City had its safest year ever in 2016 with the fewest traffic fatalities ever recorded: 230, improving on the previous low of 234 in 2015.

“These Epi Data Briefs highlight disparities—which are neither natural nor necessary—in the burden of traffic injury throughout the city. By working to prevent these tragedies, Vision Zero supports our commitment to neighborhood and racial equity,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “The Health Department will continue our partnership with the Department of Transportation to make our streets safer for every New Yorker. We thank Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg for their commitment and collaboration.”

“As part of Vision Zero, the Department of Transportation has been strongly committed to Mayor de Blasio’s goal of a more equitable city,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Our Borough Pedestrian Safety Plans, directly informed by crash data, have served as our road maps to addressing many of the disparities identified in these data briefs. I thank Commissioner Bassett and her team for helping identify how much work we have left to do – through engineering, education and enforcement – to reduce traffic fatalities across the city. With three solid years of fatalities reduced to record lows under Vision Zero, we have made tremendous progress.”

The neighborhoods of higher pedestrian fatality rates identified in the data briefs released today align with the priority areas in the DOT’s Borough Pedestrian Safety Plans. The Borough Pedestrian Safety Plans, which were released in 2015, analyzed five years of crash data to identify the most crash-prone corridors, intersections and areas. Although based on different data sources and slightly different years, the results guide Vision Zero resources to focus engineering, enforcement, and education in these priority locations to have the most impact in reducing fatalities and injuries. According to DOT’s latest data (PDF), fatalities at these locations have dropped steadily and at a faster rate than the city as a whole.

Highlights from the Epi Data Briefs

The data briefs cover 2012 through 2014, the years immediately before and after Vision Zero began in January 2014. According to these data, for every 100 miles of New York City streets, high poverty neighborhoods had pedestrian fatality rates three times as high as low poverty neighborhoods (9.1 per 100 miles versus 3.2 per 100 miles). Older adults had a pedestrian fatality rate three times as high as 18- to 64-year-olds (5.7 per 100,000 versus 1.7 per 100,000). Alcohol use was common among both pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers who died in late night and early morning crashes, compared with people who died in crashes at other times of day. Other findings include:

  • Crashes that occurred between midnight and 6 a.m. accounted for 48 percent of all motor vehicle occupant (driver and passenger) fatalities.
  • Among older adult pedestrians, Asians and Pacific Islanders had the highest fatality rate out of all race and ethnic groups (9.0 per 100,000).
  • Among motor vehicle occupants, which include drivers and passengers, the fatality rate for males was three times as high as females (1.2 per 100,000 versus 0.4 per 100,000) Among pedestrians, males had a fatality rate twice as high as females (2.6 per 100,000 versus 1.3 per 100,000).
  • Among motor vehicle occupants, the fatality rate for Black New Yorkers was more than double the rate for Asian and Pacific Islander New Yorkers (1.1 per 100,000 versus 0.5 per 100,000).
  • Staten Island residents had the highest motor vehicle occupant fatality rate, at more than five times the rate for Manhattan residents (1.1 per 100,000 versus 0.2 per 100,000).
  • Among passenger fatalities for whom seat belt use was known, only 16 percent of rear seat passengers were wearing a seat belt compared to 78 percent of front seat passengers.
  • Both child and older adult pedestrians were more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle collision within one mile of home, compared to 18- to 64-year-old pedestrians.

“The Health Department’s new report shows that Mayor de Blasio's ‘Vision Zero Action Plan’ is helping to reduce injuries and fatalities for pedestrians, motorists, and passengers alike. Traffic-calming measures — like lowering New York City’s speed limit, installing more red light cameras and speed humps, creating more ‘arterial slow zones,’ and increasing enforcement — are helping to save lives,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health.

“New York City must continue doing everything it can to prevent traffic related injuries and deaths on our streets,” said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “Using targeted data, including locations and issues leading up to crashes, we can best apply city resources to make necessary changes on our streets. Coupled with enforcement and education, we can continue to see the trend of traffic deaths decreasing, saving more families from the pain and suffering from losing a loved one.”

About Vision Zero

Under the Vision Zero initiative, traffic deaths have declined three straight years by a total 23 percent since 2013. In January 2017, Mayor de Blasio announced New York City would make an additional $400 million investment in Vision Zero, for a total of $1.6 billion over the next five years. DOT is implementing its most aggressive street redesign safety program, an increased investment in street redesign and traffic-calming measures citywide. Other Vision Zero changes announced by the Mayor include ensuring NYPD crossing guards at every post, faster replacement of street markings, intersection upgrades in the bike lane network, more left turn calming efforts, brighter lighting and more equipment at each police precinct to deter speeding.

For information on Vision Zero, visit www.nyc.gov/visionzero.

For data on hospitalization and emergency department visits for traffic injuries, visit the NYC Environment & Health Data Portal at www.nyc.gov/health/tracking.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Julien Martinez, (347) 396-4177
pressoffice@health.nyc.gov