Traffic Fatalities

The Brian Lehrer Show

No-Fault Traffic Deaths

Friday, November 21, 2014

Andrea Bernstein, senior editor for politics and policy for WNYC News, reports on why drivers face no punishment in cases like Allison's and efforts by her parents to change that.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

A Vision for Safer Streets

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

After a spate of traffic fatalities, the group Families for Safe Streets is lobbying Albany to institute a 20 mph default speed limit in the city. Mary Beth Kelly, a founding member of Families for Safe Streets, explains how this will reduce fatalities and make the city's streets safer for pedestrians.

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Transportation Nation

Former NYPD Chief: It's Time to Take On Traffic Crashes

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A contender for New York's top police job says traffic fatalities can be decreased the same way homicides were.

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Transportation Nation

2/3 of City Streets are Near Schools, Subject to Lower Speed Limits

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


A new WNYC Data News map of public and private schools shows that two thirds of streets are within a quarter of a mile of schools, with that number climbing to nearly nine of every 10 streets in Manhattan, 82 percent of streets in Brooklyn, and 74 percent in the Bronx.

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Transportation Nation

Feds Confirm Traffic Fatalities on the Rise

Thursday, November 14, 2013

For the first time since 2005, traffic fatalities are on the rise in the U.S.

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Transportation Nation

Pedestrian Fatalities On the Rise Nationwide

Monday, August 05, 2013

Even as overall traffic fatalities decrease, newly released 2011 data shows it's becoming more dangerous to be a pedestrian. According to the DOT's National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 4,432 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2011.  Pedestrians were among the few categories of road users where deaths rose, accounting for 14 percent of total traffic fatalities in 2011, up three percent from 2010.

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Human Error to Blame for Ambulance Delay in Child's Death: FDNY

Friday, June 07, 2013

New York City Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano says human error is behind a delay in getting an ambulance to the scene of a car accident that resulted in the death of a 4-year-old girl on the Upper West Side earlier this week.



Child, 4, Killed by Car After Driver Flees Cops

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

A 4-year-old girl was killed and her grandmother injured this morning when a car fleeing police jumped a curb on the Upper West Side, police said.

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Transportation Nation

Fatter Pedestrians Are Safer, Taxis Are Scourge for Cyclists: Study

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

And yet. (Kate Hinds)

Audio Interview:

NYU Langone Medical Center surveyed more than 1,400 pedestrians and cyclists who were admitted to Bellevue Hospital between 2008 and 2011 and gleaned some insight into pedestrian crashes.

So rather than using police reports, the team at NYU surveyed the people who were injured and passed through this hospital to find out more circumstantial details of the crashes. (But it also means people who were hit but didn't go to the hospital, or people who were killed, aren't in the study.)

Here are some other findings:

  • Young, walking adults are the group most frequently injured by motor vehicles in this study
  • Latino bicycle delivery men are especially vulnerable even though they are more likely to wear a helmet
  • 44% of pedestrians were hit while crossing the street in the crosswalk
  • 6% of people who were hit by cars were on the sidewalk
  • 15% of pedestrians had consumed alcohol earlier
  • 40% of cyclists and 25% percent of pedestrians hit were struck by taxis
  • 43% of the cyclists injured were working, mostly delivery men.
  • 21% of cyclist hit were in a bike lane at the time
  • 15% of cyclists injured were doored
  • Less than a third of cyclists in the study were wearing helmets
  • Being obese reduced the likelihood of injury

So what are pedestrians to do? The study recommends separating traffic from bodies -- as in more bike lanes and more pedestrian plazas.

The study is behind a paywall, but you can read the abstract here.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

NYC Traffic Deaths in Context

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Robert Kolker, contributing editor for New York Magazine, discusses his new piece on why traffic deaths are up in NYC, and how the city is trying to make intersections safer.

What do you think is NYC's most dangerous intersection, and what can be done to fix it? Call 212-433-9692 or post below!

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Transportation Nation

Chicago Wants to Zero Out Traffic Fatalities By 2022

Friday, May 11, 2012

New York's transportation department has had safety bragging rights -- reducing traffic fatalities to their lowest level ever.

But Chicago wants to go one better.  In a sweeping action agenda (.pdf), Chicago's DOT Chief, Gabe Klein, is promising to eliminate all traffic fatalities within a decade, and to reduce bike and pedestrian injuries by 50%.

Klein says this can be done through improved design, more vigorous enforcement, and safety education.  Among the proposals are a 20 mph speed limit in residential neighborhoods and more clearly marked crosswalks.

The document also promised to increase the number of under 5-mile trips taken by bike to 5% of all trips, and to "make Chicago the best big city in America for cycling and walking."

That's a distinction NYC DOT Chief Janette Sadik-Khan and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have tried to claim for New York, which has added hundreds of miles of bikeways in the last five years, and tripled the number of cyclists.

The Chicago document also promises more transit options including BRT, better on-time performance by the CTA, and more real time transit information.

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Children in Manhattan's Low-Income Neighborhoods More Likely To Be Hit By Cars

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Children under 18 account for 43 percent of car crash victims in Manhattan’s East Harlem neighborhood. But just a few blocks south, in the moneyed Upper East Side, the same age group accounts for less than 15 percent of neighborhood car crash victims.


Transportation Nation

New York Traffic Deaths Hit Historic Low

Thursday, December 29, 2011

NY Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, NY DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and NY Mayor Bloomberg Announce Traffic Stats at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. (Photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - WNYC) The Bloomberg Administration says the city will have the lowest number of traffic fatalities in its history this year.

Mayor Bloomberg said 237 people have been killed in traffic incidents this year--a 40 percent drop from 2001. He said traffic fatalities for pedestrians and children are also at record lows.

New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan added that fatal bicycle accidents have held steady. She said that's despite a quadrupling of bike ridership over the past decade.

The mayor and his transportation commissioner unveiled the statistics in Brooklyn at Grand Army Plaza, where they said safety upgrades contributed to a 40 percent reduction in crashes over the past three years.

Sadik-Khan said deaths are down because the city keeps re-engineering its streets, and plans to do more. "You will see more pedestrian countdown signals," she said. "We're going to be doubling them in the next two years. You will see more neighborhood slow zones, continuing our work to create slow zones around schools. We've done 138 so far."

She said her department also plans to keep installing bike lanes, crossing lanes and pedestrian islands around the city.

New York's traffic fatality rate is already half the per capita national average.

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Transportation Nation

US DOT: Lowest Traffic Fatalities in 60 Years

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Here's the press release, we'll be breaking it down soon.

(Traffic Fatality Report here.)

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced updated 2010 fatality and injury data showing that highway deaths fell to 32,885 for the year, the lowest level since 1949. The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred even as American drivers traveled nearly 46 billion more miles during the year, an increase of 1.6 percent over the 2009 level.

“While we have more work to do to continue to protect American motorists, these numbers show we’re making historic progress when it comes to improving safety on our nation’s roadways,” said Secretary LaHood. “Thanks to the tireless work of our safety agencies and partner organizations over the past few decades, to save lives and reduce injuries, we’re saving lives, reducing injuries, and building the foundation for what we hope will be even greater success in the future.”

The updated information released by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today indicates 2010 also saw the lowest fatality rate ever recorded, with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010, down from 1.15 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009. Other key statistics include:

* · Fatalities declined in most categories in 2010, including for occupants of passenger cars and light trucks (including SUVs, minivans and pickups).
* · Deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers dropped 4.9 percent in 2010, taking 10,228 lives compared to 10,759 in 2009.
* · Fatalities rose among pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and large truck occupants.

New Measure of Fatalities Related to Distracted Driving

NHTSA also unveiled a new measure of fatalities related to distracted driving today, called “distraction-affected crashes.” Introduced for 2010 as part of a broader effort by the agency to refine its data collection to get better information about the role of distraction in crashes, the new measure is designed to focus more narrowly on crashes in which a driver was most likely to have been distracted. While NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) previously recorded a broad range of potential distractions, such as careless driving and cell phone present in the vehicle, the new measure focuses on distractions that are most likely to affect crash involvement, such as distraction by dialing a cellular phone or texting and distraction by an outside person/event. New data released today by NHTSA using its refined methodology show an estimated 3,092 fatalities in distraction-affected crashes in 2010.

The NHTSA effort to refine distraction data is similar to a step taken with alcohol information in FARS data for 2006. Prior to 2006, FARS reported “alcohol-related crashes,” which was defined as crashes in which a driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist had a blood alcohol level of .01 or higher. In an effort to focus on crashes in which alcohol was most likely to be a causative factor, NHTSA introduced the new measure, “alcohol-impaired driving crashes,” with a more narrow definition including only those crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider had a blood alcohol level of .08 or above, the legal limit in every state.

“Even as we celebrate the incredible gains we’re making in reducing traffic fatalities, we recognize our responsibility to improve our understanding of the dangers that continue to threaten drivers and passengers,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “That’s why, under the leadership of Secretary LaHood, NHTSA is working to refine the way we collect data on distracted driving and laying the groundwork for additional research to capture real-world information on this risky behavior.”

While the explicit change in methodology means the new measure cannot be compared to the 5,474 “distraction-related” fatalities reported in 2009, other NHTSA data offer some indication that driver distraction continues to be a significant problem. The agency’s nationwide observational survey of drivers in traffic remains unchanged between 2009 and 2010, with 5 percent of drivers seen talking on handheld phones. In addition, given ongoing challenges in capturing the scope of the problem—including individuals’ reluctance to admit behavior, lack of witnesses, and in some cases the death of the driver—NHTSA believes the actual number of crashes that involve distracted driving could be higher.

National Attitude Survey on Distracted Driving

A new national NHTSA survey offers additional insights into how drivers behave when it comes to texting and cell phone use while behind the wheel and their perceptions of the safety risks of distracted driving. Survey respondents indicated they answer calls on most trips; they acknowledge few driving situations when they would not use the phone or text; and yet they feel unsafe when riding in vehicles in which the driver is texting and they support bans on texting and cell phone use. These findings provide further evidence that distracted driving is a complex problem that is both hard to measure and difficult to address given conflicting public attitudes and behaviors.

“The findings from our new attitude survey help us understand why some people continue to make bad decisions about driving distracted—but what’s clear from all of the information we have is that driver distraction continues to be a major problem,” said Administrator Strickland. “We need to maintain our focus on this issue through education, laws, enforcement, and vehicle design to help keep drivers’ attention on the road.”

Among the findings, more than three-quarters of drivers report that they are willing to answer calls on all, most, or some trips. Drivers also report that they rarely consider traffic situations when deciding when to use their phone.

While most drivers said they are willing to answer a call and many will send a text while driving, almost all of these same drivers reported that they would feel very unsafe as a passenger if their driver was sending or receiving text messages. Over one-third report that they would feel very unsafe if their driver was using a handheld phone.

Continuing Data Refinement

NHTSA’s adoption of the new “distraction-affected crash” measure for the 2010 FARS data is one step in a continuing effort to focus in on driver distraction and separate it from other issues. As part of its commitment to reduce the problem of distracted driving, NHTSA will continue to look for improved data sources. While police reports of serious crashes are an important source, they are limited by the evidence available to the officer. As a result, the agency is working to optimize information from crash reports by improving reporting forms and officer training. In addition, NHTSA will analyze new data on driver distraction from a new naturalistic study in which about 2,000 cars will be fitted with cameras and other equipment that will record driver behavior over a period of two years. Researchers will be able to use these data to associate driver behaviors with crash involvement. Data from this study will be available in 2014.


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Transportation Nation

NYC On Track to Have Lowest Traffic Fatalities in a Century

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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.

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Traffic Fatalities on Track to Hit Lowest in a Century

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The city is on track to have the lowest number of traffic fatalities in a century. But cycling advocates say the NYPD can crackdown even harder.


Transportation Nation

How Dangerous is Walking in Your Neighborhood?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Photo courtesy Transportation for America.

(San Francisco – Casey Miner, KALW News) Walking around can be a harrowing experience – just ask anyone who's ever looked both ways, sent a prayer skyward and sprinted across a busy, crosswalk-free road. A new report by transportation advocacy group Transportation for America documents just how dangerous walking can be. Using a combination of census information and data from the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Highway Administration, the report finds that more than 47,00 pedestrians were killed in the past decade; nearly 700,000 were injured.  The fatality numbers, said the report's authors, are the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every month. "If that happened, you can be sure there'd be no end to Congressional hearings and investigations," said Transportation for America director James Corless.

Within the numbers are some sobering racial and ethnic disparities: Latino pedestrians are 62% more likely to be killed than whites, while African-Americans are 73% more likely to be killed. Senior citizens of all races are at risk, but again, racial minorities are much more likely to die.

The report points out that while motor vehicle travel has generally become safer over the past 10 years – around the country, car accident fatality rates have fallen – in 15 of the country's largest metro areas, pedestrian deaths have increased. The report's authors attribute the problem to roads designed with only cars in mind: the most dangerous streets by far are major arterials, where speeding is common and pedestrian amenities rare.

Fixing these problems is relatively cheap: the report points out that changes as simple as lowering speed limits and adding crosswalks significantly reduce risk. But ultimately they advocate for government on all levels to design streets with a variety of uses in mind – what's known as a "complete streets" approach.

The top four worst regions are in Florida, followed by Southern California and Las Vegas. In the San Francisco Bay Area, which ranks 41st of 52 metro areas, 685 people died in the past ten years. Wondering how bad things are in your area? The group's got an interactive map where you can plug in your address and see for yourself.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: US Traffic Fatalities Hit Lowest Point In 60 Years, Toronto Went From "Transit City" to "Transit Pity", and: Look Up! Invisible Bug Highway

Friday, April 01, 2011

U.S. traffic fatalities fell to the lowest levels in 60 years--representing a 25% decline since 2005 (New York Times). US DOT head Ray LaHood writes: "Despite this good news, we are not going to rest on our laurels."

A Los Angeles Times columnist says that the MTA, in eliminating bus lines, is making the wrong decision at the wrong time. Says he in the accompanying video (below): "We are cutting back at exactly the time we should be throwing a lot of resources into expanding public transportation."

The Toronto Star feels similarly about that city's transit plan. "Transit City has become a transit pity," they write of Mayor Rob Ford's commuter rail expansion, saying it "will take longer to build, deliver less service, and leave Toronto in search of an extra $4.2 billion."

Skanska AB, the construction giant working on some of New York's largest public works projects (including the Fulton Street Transit Center), will pay a $19.6 million settlement after being investigated for circumventing rules designed to encourage the hiring of minority- and women-owned businesses. (Wall Street Journal)

A decision about contested bike lanes in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood is expected in April. Last November, the city installed about a quarter-mile of a bike path on Charlestown's Main Street, then removed the lanes a short time later after neighborhood complaints. (Boston Globe)

U.S. sales of cars and trucks are expected to rise at a double-digit rate in March (AP via Detroit Free Press). Meanwhile, Toyota USA today announced higher sticker prices for nearly every 2011 model the company sells here. (USA Today)

A new report says that Texas will be facing a $170 billion gap between the amount of money that needs to be invested in transportation to keep commutes from getting worse and the amount of money the state expects to bring in from federal freeway funds, the gasoline tax and vehicle registration fees between 2011 and 2035. (Houston Chronicle)

President Obama signed a bill that funds the Federal Aviation Administration re-authorization bill through May. Meanwhile, a battle is brewing over some controversial pieces of the longer measure. (The Hill)

In Bethesda, Maryland, you can now use your cellphone to pay the parking meter. (WAMU)

Look up! Above your head is an invisible billion-bug highway. (NPR)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Houston is contemplating natural gas-powered buses. NY Congressman -- and bike lane cipher -- Anthony Weiner kills at the Correspondents Dinner (sample line: "Vote for Weiner--he'll be frank.") We have the latest in the inter-city bus investigations. And: the K train rides again -- if only on the subway's roll sign.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

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Transportation Nation

Traffic Deaths Up Slightly in NYC, But Still Lowest In Nation

Monday, February 07, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) 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, was bicycles, inching up slightly, but still considerably lower than historic averages. Pedestrian deaths continued to decline though.

The city DOT says 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 m.p.h -- 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.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: MTA's "Stealth" Fare Hike, and World Traffic Deaths Falling in Developed Nations

Thursday, September 30, 2010

World traffic deaths falling in developed nations--like in Denmark, which, in 2009, posted the lowest number of traffic fatalities since 1932. (Detroit News)

Transportation leaders gather in DC to trade ideas on how to bring big projects to fruition. (WAMU)

The MTA says that eliminating discounts on tickets purchased via mail or web is not a fare hike; Connecticut Metro North riders beg to differ. (Hartford Courant)

New York Times op-ed: if Governor Christie kills the Hudson River tunnel, "the region’s economic future could be hobbled."

An etiquette authority has been called in to help Londoners adopt "Victorian-style" manners when biking/walking on the towpaths (BBC).

Looking back on the defeat of Westway, the highway that was to have been tunneled under Manhattan's Hudson River waterfront. (WNYC)

(Under the Westway II by Drew Leavy)

Zipcar in Cambridge to put decals on vehicles, remind drivers not to door bicyclists. (WBUR)

Seoul Cycle Design Competition unveils a new urban commuter bicycle -- say hello to Bike 2.0. "You will never get oily pants or fingers from the chain again." (via AltTransport)

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