Traffic Deaths Down 26 Percent, Injuries Down 8 Percent So Far in 2014

The Daily News reports that traffic deaths and injuries are down over the first three months of 2014 compared to the same period last year. The improvement is encouraging, and increased traffic enforcement is probably playing a role, but the harsh winter is almost certainly a factor too.

Transit reporter Pete Donohue relays the numbers: Traffic deaths are down 26 percent so far this year, from 69 to 51, and injuries are down 8 percent, from 11,650 to 10,729.

The decline in injuries, which are less subject to random variation than fatalities, suggests that the improvement in safety is real.

Increased traffic enforcement from NYPD and the city’s small speed camera program probably explain some of the decline in traffic violence. Police have started to hand out more tickets for dangerous motor vehicle violations. Summonses for failing to yield to pedestrians doubled the first two months of this year compared to last year, and red-light-running and speeding tickets rose a more modest amount. Meanwhile, the city’s speed cams, only five of which have been turned on, issued 11,715 tickets in their first two-and-a-half months of operation, accounting for a major share of all speeding tickets in the city.

The high profile of Vision Zero may also be having an effect. Elected officials from Mayor de Blasio on down have been talking about the need to prevent traffic violence, and that could be influencing people’s behavior behind the wheel to some extent.

Then there’s the weather. In 2012, when traffic deaths increased nationally for the first time in seven years, the mild winter was cited as a potential factor. The harsh winter in NYC this year may have produced the opposite effect. New Yorkers were less exposed to traffic violence because they were walking and biking less, and drivers may have been less inclined to speed with more ice and slush coating the streets. We don’t have national figures yet to determine if the change in NYC is specific to the city or part of a broader trend.

While it’s too early to say exactly what’s causing the improvement in street safety this year, it looks like NYPD’s shifting enforcement priorities are helping and so is the city’s fledgling automated speed enforcement program, but we still need to do a whole lot more.

  • Bolwerk

    Hurr! But crime is skyrocketing! Hurr! Socialism!

  • Reader

    It wasn’t just that drivers weren’t speeding due to the ice, it’s probably also that fewer drivers bothered to use their cars at all. Vehicles were snowed in for weeks, ASP was suspended for an almost record-breaking amount of time, and any sane motorist knew that moving a car to go for a drive meant a very real chance of not being able to find a spot at the end of the day. Not to dismiss the real hardships that some car-dependent people experienced this winter, but clearly a lot of New Yorkers were still able to live their lives, buy food, and get to work without the convenience of a private motor vehicle.

    Goes to show that NYC ought to do more to reform its parking policies if it wants to reduce congestion and improve safety.

  • sammy davis jr jr

    Well said! The reduction in traffic deaths can be summed up with this photo

  • zerovision

    Better yet just lock everyone in their apartments for weeks at a time
    simulating snowstorms. It is time to start implementing all of the
    lessons learned by our great public institutions when it comes to
    controlling the dangers of too much movement and freedom. By locking
    people in state mandated apartments of uniform efficiencies so much can
    be done to rectify traffic and eliminate the burden on our streets.
    Think of the population densities in green buildings we can achieve
    through mandating apartment sizes equal to the apartment sizes in our
    correctional institutions, add in movement controls and the cities will
    be so much more livable.


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