Traffic deaths are up slightly, but New York is still the safest big city in the country when it comes to traffic fatalities, according to 2010 data released Monday by the New York City Department of Transportation.
According to the DOT, 269 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2010 compared to a record low 258 in 2009. On a per-capita basis that still makes New York the safest big city in the country, according to a statement from the DOT, with a fatality rate about half the national average.
The increase over 2009 was due mostly to a jump in motorcycle accidents, increasing by 10 to a total of 39 fatalities. Motorcycles are involved in 14 percent of traffic fatalities even though they represent just two percent of all vehicle registrations in New York City.
Also contributing to the slight jump in deaths, were bicycles, inching up slightly, but still considerably lower than historic averages. Pedestrian deaths continued to decline though.
The city DOT said many traffic deaths are caused by speeding cars. A car going 40 mph that hits a pedestrian, for instance, will cause death in four out of five cases. But a car going 30 mph — the legal limit in the five boroughs — is lethal less than a third of the time.
So the DOT has embarked on a public awareness campaign to encourage slower driving. The agency is also trying to target specific trouble spots with catered changes like more lighting and removing parking spaces to increase visibility at intersections with high rates of left turn crashes.