Health Department Releases Report On Driving and Dangerous Driving Behaviors Among New York City Adults And Teens

Data collected for the first time on adults who reported speeding and texting or emailing while driving; data show speeding is common among adult drivers

Multifaceted approach of Vision Zero, incorporating education, engineering, enforcement and legislation, is expected to have a measurable impact on these behaviors over time

March 31, 2017 – The Health Department today released a new Epi Data Brief on driving and dangerous driving behaviors. The report, “Driving and Self-reported Dangerous Driving Behaviors in New York City,” provides statistics collected for the first time on the number and characteristics of adults who drive in New York City, as well as estimates of adults who speed and text or email while driving. The report also compares texting or emailing while driving among teen drivers in New York City versus nationally. Overall, speeding was common among adult drivers; 64 percent reported speeding, and 13 percent sped often. Among New York City teen drivers of legal driving age (16 and older), 15 percent texted or emailed while driving, much lower than teen drivers nationally (49 percent). Speed, alcohol use and distracted driving are factors that contribute to traffic crashes. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative advances engineering, enforcement and education strategies that influence driving behaviors. This report provides population-based data on driving and select driving behaviors collected in 2015, near the launch of Vision Zero. The report uses self-reported survey data from the 2015 New York City Community Health Survey and the 2015 National and New York City Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. The full Epi Data Brief can be found here.

“While New York City is known as a city of pedestrians, 41 percent of all adult New Yorkers report driving a car in the past 30 days and speeding is all too common,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Driving behavior is influenced by many factors, and Mayor de Blasio’s multi-faceted Vision Zero effort addresses these issues through education, engineering, enforcement, and legislation. We will continue to work with our partners at DOT and NYPD to approach traffic safety as a public health issue, so we can save lives and prevent tragedies from occurring.” 

According to the data brief, in 2015, 41 percent of adults, representing nearly 2.7 million New Yorkers, drove a car at least once in the past 30 days. White drivers were more likely to speed (71 percent) compared with Black (64 percent), Latino (55 percent) and Asian/Pacific Islander drivers (42 percent). Among drivers, men were more likely to speed than women (66 percent versus 61 percent). More than two-thirds (68 percent) of adult drivers ages 25 to 44 years sped, similar to the rate among drivers ages 18 to 24 years (67 percent), but higher than that among drivers 45 to 64 years (61 percent) and 65 years and older (57 percent).

“Speeding and driving while texting or on the phone can lead to tragic consequences, both for drivers and for others sharing our streets,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “The City is right to address traffic-related injuries and deaths as a public health issue. This data can help to better allocate public safety resources and mold policy solutions to ensure our residents are as safe as possible when out and about.”

Overall, 19 percent of adult drivers texted or emailed while driving, ranging from 34 percent among drivers ages 18 to 24 years to 3 percent of drivers ages 65 years and older. Among drivers ages 18 to 64 years old, New Yorkers were less likely to text or email while driving compared with drivers nationally (22 percent versus 31 percent).

Driving when drinking alcohol was less common among teen drivers in New York City versus nationally (7 percent versus 9 percent). Among New York City teen drivers, data suggest that boys were more likely than girls to drive when drinking alcohol (8 percent versus 4 percent), and boys were more likely than girls to text or email while driving (19 percent versus 10 percent). 

About Vision Zero
In February, Mayor de Blasio announced that under the Vision Zero plan, 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. In January 2017, after three successive years of declines in traffic fatalities, Mayor Bill 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. The City has already implemented a number of safety initiatives, such as lowering the default New York City speed limit to 25 miles per hour, installing red light and speeding enforcement cameras, redesigning high crash intersections and corridors, and focusing on enforcement of high risk driver infractions, such as speeding, failure to yield, and cell phone/texting.  

For information on Vision Zero, visit



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