NYC pedestrian accidents spur outcry over preventable deaths

Frequent pedestrian deaths have New York City residents demanding improved safety. Many find government’s response lacking.

Pedestrian injuries and deaths due to accidents on the streets of New York City are all too common. The issue has become such a sore spot across all the boroughs that it sparked the city council to pass a package of bills aimed at improving street safety. Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the measures into law a few weeks back and says the intent of all the measures is to support what he calls Vision Zero — an initiative to eliminate traffic-related fatalities.

Some might wonder whether such action is needed. After all, according to The New York Times, city data indicates that deaths from traffic accidents have been on the decline since 1990. More than 700 deaths were reported that year. By 2000, only 381 had been reported. And by 2011, the number of fatalities had fallen to 249.

Still, there are plenty of official statistics to show that traffic accidents remain a pernicious problem. They reportedly show that a New Yorker suffers serious injury or death every two hours as a result of a crash. Some 4,000 people are hurt and more than 250 are killed every year.

The non-profit Tri-State Transportation Campaign has been studying the problem in depth for the past several years and it reports that between 2010 and 2012, 420 pedestrians have been killed in city traffic accidents. The group has even ranked the most dangerous streets. Broadway in Manhattan is number one with nine fatalities. Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens is number two with eight.

An epidemic of traffic fatalities

The 11-bill package recently signed by the mayor seeks to end what one city council leader calls “an epidemic of traffic fatalities” and serious injuries. Among other things, the bundled measures direct the Department of Transportation to undertake more studies and produce regular reports on traffic flow issues and signal problems.

One calls for the creation of seven Neighborhood Slow Zones through this year and next. It would also lower speed limits to between 15 and 20 mph in areas near 50 schools. Another of the measures would result in taxi and limo drivers who are cited for traffic violations that result in someone being critically injured or killed having their licenses suspended. Yet another lists an array of penalties against drivers of any vehicles that fail to yield to pedestrians and bicyclists.

The mayor has also proposed lowering the default speed limit in the city at 25 mph from the current 30 mph. The idea has already won the approval of the state legislature.

Department of Transportation officials won’t say whether some or all the ideas in the plan will be implemented. A spokesman insists that safety is the top DOT priority and that the agency will continue to work with communities to consider all options.

What is clear from all that has been reported is that the public is on high alert and demanding action. Pedestrian accidents happen suddenly and often are the result of driver incompetence, distraction or recklessness. The risks of suffering injuries such as broken bones, brain trauma or wrongful death while simply walking down the street are higher than ever.

Anyone who falls victim to such circumstances should know what their rights are regarding the seeking of compensation. The way to do that is by contacting an experienced personal injury attorney.