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NYC Traffic Deaths Fell in First Five Months of 2016

2016jan-may
Through the end of May, traffic fatalities declined 11 percent this year compared to the same period in 2015. Data from NYC open data portal, compiled by Jon Orcutt

Traffic fatalities in NYC declined 11 percent through the end of May compared to the same period last year, according to NYPD crash data.

Up-to-date crash data hasn't been available through City Hall's Vision Zero View website since the end of February, with the city saying it will post fresh data after a new reporting system is implemented. NYPD has, however, resumed publishing crash information on the city's open data portal, which is publicly available but lacks the same accessibility and ease of use.

Jon Orcutt, former policy director at NYC DOT and current advocacy and communications director at TransitCenter, posted an update on fatalities at his personal Tumblr using the NYPD feed. As of the end of May, 77 people were killed in traffic in 2016 -- down from 87 at the same point last year.

All of the improvement happened in a single month -- May -- a caveat to avoid reading too much into the numbers.

One cause for concern is that total traffic injuries are up, from 18,914 in the first five months of 2015 to 22,226 through May this year. Looking only at pedestrian injuries, the number is also on the rise -- from 3,949 to 4,395. The injury statistics don't account for severity, however, so we don't know if serious injuries have increased, bucking the trend in fatalities, or if minor injuries are propelling the increase.

Under the de Blasio administration's Vision Zero initiative, NYC has continued to redesign streets, and it has increased enforcement of "failure to yield" violations and speeding. Notably, the city finished installing the 140 speed enforcement cameras allowed by Albany last September, so there were more speed cams at work in the first eight months of 2016 than the same time in 2015.

While 2016 will be the safest year on record in NYC if the decrease in traffic deaths holds up over the full year, the city will still not be on pace to achieve the Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024. With legislative leaders and Governor Cuomo failing to pass a bill expanding New York City's automated speed enforcement program this session, it's even more urgent for City Hall to make changes to the streets that will reduce the loss of life.

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