Press Releases

Press Release #11-16

Seth Solomonow/Scott Gastel (212) 839-4850

NYC DOT Announces Historic Safety Trend Continues with Sustained Lows in Citywide Traffic Fatalities

Last four years have recorded the lowest traffic fatalities in New York City history

New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced that preliminary 2010 safety statistics show sustained historic lows in citywide traffic fatalities, with the last four years recording the lowest number of traffic fatalities in city history. Last year, 269 people were killed in traffic crashes in the five boroughs, the second-lowest number since records started being kept in 1910, and second only to 2009's record-low of 258 fatalities. The findings reinforce New York City 's position as the safest big city, with fatality rates a quarter of the nationwide rate and half that of other big cities. Fatalities have dropped by 31 percent during the Bloomberg Administration, with safety gains among pedestrians and other key categories as the City has implemented widespread safety improvements in street engineering and expanded NYPD enforcement of traffic laws and safety campaigns focused on seniors, schoolchildren and combating speeding and alcohol use.

Hit at 40MPH, Hit at 30MPH. Head showing a face as half skeleton and half fine.
DOT's "That's Why It's 30" campaign dramatically illustrates the deadly effects of speeding.

"This historic era shows how far we've come on safety, but the statistics also bear a warning that we can't let up in our work to build safer streets," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "Too many crashes that take lives on our streets are still all-too avoidable and we need to do even more to prevent speeding, drunken driving and simple failure to pay attention."

A 34 percent increase in the number of fatal motorcyclist crashes accounted for almost all of last year's growth—increasing by 10 to a total of 39 fatalities. Motorcycles now account for 14 percent of traffic fatalities though they comprise only about two percent of all vehicle registrations in New York City. A DOT study using data from 2005 to 2009 found that nearly half (46 percent) of all fatal motorcycle crashes are related to speeding, and motorcyclists were 18 times more likely to be killed than vehicle occupants in a crash.

Pedestrian fatalities decreased slightly to 151 in 2010, five fewer than during the previous year, and 21 percent fewer than in 2001. Bicycle traffic deaths, which had decreased by more than 50 percent in 2009, increased last year to 18—slightly less than the historical average for the last three decades. Senior fatalities dropped by three to 44 last year, or 32 percent fewer than in 2001. In 2008, DOT launched its citywide Safe Streets for Seniors initiative, which has already brought major safety improvements to 10 senior areas city.

You the Man Campaign Coasters
"You the Man" celebrates designated drivers and encourages planning ahead before a night out.

DOT last fall launched its new "That's Why It's 30" advertising campaign to combat excessive speeding in New York City. Based on the findings of last year's landmark Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan, DOT found that two-thirds of New Yorkers were uncertain of the city's 30 m.p.h. speed limit. The campaign featured humorous yet pointed television and radio ads as well as more hard-hitting public billboards to underscore the life-saving benefits of driving the 30 m.p.h. speed limit: If a pedestrian is hit by a car traveling 40 m.p.h. or faster, there's a 70 percent chance that pedestrian will be killed; at 30 m.p.h., there's an 80 percent chance that the pedestrian will live.

DOT's also unveiled its new "You the Man"" campaign in 2010 to reduce Driving While Intoxicated in the city. Targeting men ages 21-39, who in 2008 were responsible for 63 percent of alcohol-related crashes in New York City, the campaign celebrates the city's designated drivers and encourages New Yorkers to plan for a designated driver before a night on the town. DOT also launched an iPhone app using GPS technology to let New Yorkers locate and immediately call the nearest TLC-approved car service.

The findings from 2010 are consistent with last year's DOT's exhaustive Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan. This landmark study was the most ambitious of its kind ever undertaken by a US city and identified the causes, common factors and geographic distribution of more than 7,000 pedestrian crashes in New York City from 2004 to 2009. Highlights from the report include:

  • Drivers' failure to yield accounted for 27 percent of crashes involving pedestrians killed or seriously injured.
  • Left-turn crashes resulting in pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries outnumbered right-turn ones three to one.
  • Pedestrians accounted for 52 percent of traffic fatalities from 2005-2009.
  • Driver inattention was cited in 36 percent of crashes resulting in pedestrians killed or seriously injured.
  • Serious pedestrian crashes are about two-thirds deadlier on major street corridors than on smaller local streets.
  • Male drivers are involved in 80 percent of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians.
  • Manhattan has four times as many pedestrians killed or severely injured per mile of street compared to the other four borough.
  • Pedestrians killed in Manhattan lived in other boroughs or outside New York City 43 percent of the time.

As part of the pedestrian safety action plan, DOT announced that countdown pedestrian signals would be installed at 1,500 intersections across all five boroughs. Other key initiatives include:

  • A pilot program to test the safety performance of neighborhood 20 m.p.h. zones: Neighborhood 20 m.p.h. zones will lie implemented to slow traffic on an area-wide, rather than individual street, basis. Projects will be developed in collaboration with local communities and at least one pilot project will be implemented in 2011.
  • Safety upgrades along 60 miles of streets per year for greater pedestrian safety, according to corridor crash data: Using a corridor ranking system, DOT will identify and address safety issues on a minimum of 60 miles per year of these streets.
  • Re-engineering 20 intersections for pedestrian safety on major Manhattan two-way streets: High-crash, high-volume intersections of the Manhattan avenues with major cross town two-way streets, such as Canal Street, 57th Street and 125th Street, will be examined individually and solutions will be tailored to local conditions.
  • Implement a pilot program to improve visibility at left turns along avenues in Manhattan: Daylighting – the removal of curbside parking spaces at the approach to an intersection – will be implemented at all left turn approaches on major Manhattan avenues with high rates of left-turn pedestrian crashes. The removal of parking spaces increases pedestrian visibility and reduces turning-vehicle pedestrian crashes. The complete Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan report can be found on the DOT website.

Download charts, maps, and sample ads (pdf).