Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is the Metro Editor for WNYC News. She has previously served as Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Some 214 people have died in traffic accidents so far this year including pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and passengers, according to the NYPD. That's compared to 256 deaths at this time last year.
In 2009, a record low 258 people died. The total for all of 2010 was 269.
But Noah Budnick of the group Transportation Alternatives says that number is still way to high, saying it exceeds the number killed by guns.
"Like the other crime and public safety issues that the NYPD solves, traffic deaths and injuries are preventable. New Yorkers deserve more leadership than Ray Kelly’s acceptance of the status quo," Budnick said.
Transportation Alternatives held a protest Wednesday at NYC police headquarters. The group has been particularly incensed by a recent incident in Williamsburg, where a driver left the scene after fatally colliding with Brooklyn resident Mathieu Lefevre. Police did not bring charges, saying "that's why they call it an accident." TA calls that "a cavalier attitude," towards enforcing traffic laws.
Budnick noted Mayor Michael Bloomberg's private foundation has contributed some $125 million to reduce traffic deaths in third world countries.
But,NYPD spokesman Paul Browne says police have issued 770,000 summons for moving violations this year, and that traffic accidents have declined by almost half over the last ten years in New York City.
In an email, Browne said: "The NYPD, which has 3,700 uniformed and civilian personnel engaged in traffic safety and enforcement, more than any Police Department in the nation, has issued over 770,000 summonses for moving violations so far this year, and has made over 8,000 arrests for drunken driving. The department has seized 1,363 vehicles in connection with DWI and other offenses. Over 21,000 vehicles have been seized since the program began in 1999. We regularly stop and summons drivers for unsafe, accident-related practices such as use of a hand-held phones while driving."
Browne has not yet responded to an email request for more details in its summons. But as Transportation Nation's Alex Goldmark has reported from an examination of earlier data released by the NYPD, this year the department issued more tickets for tinted windows than speeding.