NYC Steps Up Pedestrian Safety Efforts

Starting Oct. 28 in the morning, DOT and NYPD street teams will engage in a citywide "day of awareness," distributing more than 1 million palm cards to educate drivers and other New Yorkers at high-priority Vision Zero target areas across all five boroughs. The cards underscore a pre-enforcement message about speeding, failure to yield, and the dangers posed by increasing darkness in the fall; they remind drivers that with less sunlight, they will have less time to react to the unexpected.

New York City's mayor, Bill de Blasio, and city officials announced Oct. 27 that they are increasing their efforts around Vision Zero as the city enters what has traditionally been the deadliest season of the year for pedestrians on city streets. Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, NYPD Chief Thomas M. Chan, TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi, and Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado made the announcement together in Manhattan, saying that crashes involving pedestrians – especially seniors – usually spike in the fall as the sun sets during the evening rush: DOT data show severe pedestrian crashes rise by 40 percent in the late afternoon and evening hours from November through March.

Drivers should obey the speed limit, slow down, yield to pedestrians when turning, and expect heightened enforcement, they said.

"While we've made important strides to see that New Yorkers are safer than they were before Vision Zero, one death is one too many, and there's still so much more we can do," de Blasio said. "To meet our ambitious Vision Zero goals, especially during the more dangerous reality of this season's evenings and nights, we have focused our efforts even further. Our key Vision Zero agencies have teamed up to not only study crash data, but to work closely together and make critical adjustments that we believe will literally save lives."

DOT's analysis of year-over-year crash trends showed that:

  • The earlier onset of darkness in the fall and winter is highly correlated to an increase in traffic injuries and deaths.
  • Lower visibility during the dark hours of the colder months leads to twice as many crashes involving turns.
  • In 2015, the year with the fewest traffic fatalities in New York City's recorded history, 40 percent of the pedestrian fatalities occurred after Oct. 1.
  • Daylight Saving Time ended last year on Nov. 1, and in the eight days that followed, nine pedestrians died as a result of crashes, making it one of the deadliest periods of that year. All of the victims were between 55 and 88 years old, and only three of those deaths occurred during daylight hours.

"As the days get shorter and the weather colder, crashes on our streets involving pedestrians increase – and so we are enlisting data-driven strategies to address that upturn," said Trottenberg. "Through education and enforcement with our sister agencies, every driver needs to learn about the limited visibility of this season and the dangers of fast turns, especially in the evening hours. Re-engineered intersections like the one at the Manhattan Bridge will also make crossing our busiest streets safer for everybody."

"The NYPD takes the safety of all users of our city's streets and roadways seriously and will play an active role in mitigating a potential spike in traffic fatalities as daylight saving time ends," Chan added. "There will be citywide Vision Zero enforcement activity during the evening peak hours, as well as a continuation of our education initiatives. This combination of efforts has been yielding positive results since the inception of Vision Zero."

Starting Oct. 28 in the morning, DOT and NYPD street teams will engage in a citywide "day of awareness," distributing more than 1 million palm cards to educate drivers and other New Yorkers at high-priority Vision Zero target areas across all five boroughs. The cards underscore a pre-enforcement message about speeding, failure to yield, and the dangers posed by increasing darkness in the fall; they remind drivers that with less sunlight, they will have less time to react to the unexpected.

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