Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly often tout New York as the safest big city in the country when it comes to crime. And this week, in highlighting sustained lows in traffic fatalities, the Department of Transportation detailed how it’s doing its part to help the Big Apple retain the safety crown.
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 all-time low of 258 fatalities, according to preliminary 2010 safety statistics. The last four years have recorded the lowest traffic fatalities in city history. New York rates are a quarter of the nationwide rates and half that of other big cities.
Additionally, fatalities in the city have dropped 31 percent in the last decade. In 2010, there were 66 traffic deaths in Queens, down from 116 in 2001.
DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said the stats are encouraging, but there is more work to be done.
“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,” Sadik-Khan asserted in a prepared statement.
DOT credited the safety gains made under the Bloomberg administration with improvements in street engineering, expanded NYPD enforcement of traffic laws and campaigns focused on seniors, schoolchildren and combating speeding and alcohol use.
Part of those campaigns are the ubiquitous “That’s Why it’s 30” television, radio and billboard advertisements, which stress 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 reported on Monday that pedestrian fatalities decreased slightly to 151 in 2010, from 156 the previous year, and 21 percent fewer than in 2001.
However, not all the findings were positive. Bicycle traffic deaths, which had decreased by more than 50 percent in 2009, increased last year to 18.