New Record Low for NYC Traffic Deaths

New York City leaders announced preliminary statistics on Dec. 29 that show the city recorded the fewest annual traffic fatalities since records were first kept in 1910. Fire deaths in 2011 were the second-lowest number on record.

Driving in New York City is getting speedily safer, according to preliminary statistics announced Dec. 29 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. The statistics show the city recorded 237 traffic fatalities as of Dec. 27, the fewest annual traffic fatalities since records were first kept in 1910. Pedestrian deaths from vehicle impacts declined to 134, the fewest ever and a 31 percent reduction since 2001, they said.

The three credited safety engineering initiatives by the Department of Transportation, public education efforts, and aggressive police enforcement against speeding and drunken driving. "This will be the city's safest traffic year in the more than 100 years since records were kept," Bloomberg said. "We've made progress in every area of traffic safety due to our willingness to take new, creative approaches to longstanding challenges with safety redesigns and through aggressive traffic enforcement. We've focused on making our streets safer for all who use them -– no matter how they decide travel -– and it's another reason New Yorkers are living longer and another reason our city is safer than ever before."

"The reduction in traffic deaths as a result of our safety engineering means nearly 300 New Yorkers are alive today who would not have been if we had simply sustained the fatality rate of five years ago," said Sadik-Khan. "And even as we applaud this accomplishment, the men and women of NYC DOT are working throughout the five boroughs to make our streets even safer."

Kelly said the New York Police Department issues a million summonses for moving violations annually, about a third of which involve seat belt enforcement and distracted driving. "It's also reflected in arrests for DWI," he added. "We've made 8,500 drunk driving arrests through December 18 and seized 900 vehicles in the process."

The city's traffic fatality rate has fallen from 4.87 fatalities per 100,000 residents in 2001, when a total of 393 were recorded, to 2.8 per 100,000 residents in 2011.

Kelly, Bloomberg, and Fire Commission Salvatore Cassano announced Dec. 28 that, as of that date, there had been 64 fire deaths in the city in 2011 -- the second-lowest number on record. Fire response times were maintained at near-record low levels and ambulance response times to life-threatening calls during 2011 were the fastest on record at 6:31, better than the previous low of 6:37 in 2006, they said.

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