Can City Reduce Ped Traffic Fatalities to Zero?

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There has already been one victory in the fight for improved pedestrian safety: The speed limit on Prospect Park West where 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein was killed last year was reduced to 25 miles an hour earlier this month. A long, sad story in the New York Times over the weekend about how his death galvanized his parents to become traffic safety activists put ped fatalities into perspective.

Every 30 hours, someone dies from a traffic crash in New York City. Fatalities decreased during the Bloomberg years but increased in the last two years to about 286 in 2013. The majority of deaths are pedestrians and cyclists.

But it used to be worse. In 1990, 701 people died in traffic crashes. In 1929, 1,390 died.

Now activists are pushing to “bring the number to zero, or close to it. It’s a Swedish concept called Vision Zero, and Mayor de Blasio embraced the idea at a news conference in mid-January,” said the Times. The story summarizes the cases of children killed recently by cars, and talks about de Blasio’s support for the initiatives. But it doesn’t mention that the recent targeting of jaywalkers on the Upper West Side led police to rough up an 84-year-old pedestrian.

After a Son’s Death, Parents Channel Their Grief Into Activism [NY Times]
Police Shift Focus From Crime to Traffic Safety [NY Post]
Photo by Leslie Albrecht for DNAinfo

4 Comment

  • I hope it will include the Police department putting more people to work on investigating so called traffic accidents, instead of stopping and frisking harmless pedestrians or holding up whole traffic routes, just to hold up traffic in the cloak of reminding drivers to “drive safe”. All the last two do is make people angry and late to where they are trying to get to.

  • The answer to the headline is No (not even close)

    We have scores of people killed by subway trains and they ride on fixed tracks with no crossings and professional drivers. Road fatalities will never equal zero.

  • Most years, over half of subway fatalities are suicides. And the accident rate (falling off the platform) is a product of platform design — many modern subways in Asia have a glass wall with sliding doors separating the platform from the trains.

  • Speed limits reduction is good, but not the solution. You can do major harm even at 25, and setting it lower would mean no-one would obey it.

    The answer is to make drivers totally responsible for their actions. In the absence of mechanical error and the rare cases where peds may ‘jump out’ in front of a car (actual excuse used), the driver must be charged, period. No excuse about ‘didn’t see the ped/cyclist’, ‘lost conrtrol’, whatever. How do you lose control of a car? If you do, you should be help responsible. Isn’t it your duty to ensure you’re driving at a speed that you can see people & obstacles?

    We have reached a nadir here. A cabbie can deliberately chase a cyclist, jump a curb and maim someone and he’d not charged. A truck turning left kills a kid and the driver’s not charged. It has to stop.