Mayor’s Office Starts Releasing Weekly Murder Data. Why Not Traffic Deaths?

Streetsblog readers are familiar with The Weekly Carnage, our tally of the week’s traffic injuries and fatalities. Without an official source providing updates on a weekly basis, we cobble together our information from media accounts and our own reporting in an attempt to help New Yorkers understand the magnitude of traffic violence on the city’s streets each week.

Over the course of a year — the period for which the city releases traffic death data — the fatalities add up. Last year, 274 New Yorkers died in traffic.

Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that his office will send its own weekly update, using official NYPD data, of the number of shootings and murders in the city. The first update, issued yesterday afternoon, specifically calls out the number of murders committed with firearms, and the total number of shootings.

While it’s hard not to see this new press initiative from the mayor’s office in light of Bloomberg’s opposition to attempts to reform stop-and-frisk, there’s another lesson to take from yesterday’s announcement.

Bloomberg, like many of the candidates seeking to succeed him, has spoken forcefully and taken action to combat gun deaths and traffic violence, and has espoused the virtues of data-driven governance. But while the mayor has decided to start releasing weekly updates about gun violence,  more New Yorkers are killed in traffic than are murdered with guns, and traffic remains the top killer of the city’s children. The mayor’s weekly release of gun violence data makes it obvious, if it weren’t already, that the administration could also draw more attention to traffic violence.

Updates on the thousands of traffic deaths and injuries in the city each month are currently available in PDF releases from NYPD. Releasing this data weekly, straight from the mayor’s office, would elevate the profile of traffic violence and help frame it as a preventable threat to New York’s safety that must be confronted by public policy.

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