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NY1 Poll: 68% Correctly Believe Drivers Cause Most NYC Traffic Crashes

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NY1 today announced the results of a traffic safety poll, conducted by Marist, which asked New Yorkers whom they blame for most city traffic crashes.

The results, as reported by the affable Roger Clark and Pat Kiernan: 68 percent of those polled city-wide believe motorists are responsible for the majority of crashes, 19 percent think cyclists cause the most collisions, and 13 percent say pedestrians are most often to blame.

In Manhattan, though drivers still lead at 59 percent, 31 percent of respondents cite cyclists as the number one danger on city streets, with pedestrians a distant third at 10 percent.

The fact that a huge majority of New Yorkers get that motorists pose the most danger could indicate support for improved enforcement by police and district attorneys. It helps that the public perception is supported by hard data.

In 2010, the city issued a report indicating that driver actions are the primary cause of 78.5 percent of crashes that killed or seriously injured pedestrians. As we reported, motorist inattention was a leading factor in 36 percent of such crashes, 27 percent involved failure to yield, and driver speed was cited in 20 percent of those incidents. A vast majority of serious crashes, 79 percent, were caused by the drivers of private vehicles.

Overall, according to DMV data [PDF], there were more than 78,000 car crashes, with over 77,000 people injured, in New York City in 2010. Meanwhile, the best available data on crashes involving only cyclists and pedestrians, collected from hospital records, shows that only 524 pedestrians were injured in bike collisions in the same year.

While the story is presented in a light-hearted way, Kiernan and Clark acknowledge that street safety is serious business. Which makes it somewhat curious that they reported this poll without comparing its results to readily-available data.

NY1 will be taking a closer look at the poll and street safety issues on "The Call" tonight. Streetsblog editor Ben Fried will be one of the guests on the program, which airs live at 9.

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