NYC Traffic Injuries Dropped in 2012, But Not for Pedestrians and Cyclists

Image: NYS DMV

Bill de Blasio will have to make major changes to bring NYC traffic fatalities down to zero. Image: NYS DMV

With 2013 coming to a close, we finally have access to citywide traffic injury data from 2012. A recently-posted summary from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles [PDF] shows that overall traffic injuries in New York City declined in 2012, but the improvement was limited to motor vehicle occupants. Annual pedestrian and cyclist injuries were largely unchanged from 2011, though fatalities did decrease.

In 2012, 271 people died in city traffic crashes, compared to 268 deaths in 2011. Last year 135 pedestrians and 17 cyclists were killed by motorists, compared to 143 and 22, respectively, in 2011. That’s a 1 percent rise in total fatalities and a 7 percent decrease in pedestrian and cyclist deaths.

Total injuries fell by 6 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, from 69,955 to 65,632. However, injuries to pedestrians and cyclists rose slightly. In 2012, 10,809 pedestrians and 3,518 cyclists were hurt in collisions with motor vehicles, compared to 10,660 and 3,504, respectively, in 2011 — a 1 percent increase overall. Because cumulative injuries are less subject to random variation, they are a more reliable safety indicator than fatalities.

Speeding was cited as a factor in 59 of 253 fatal crashes. Driver inattention or distraction was cited in 48 fatal crashes, and 34 were reportedly caused at least in part by failure to yield. Pedestrian or cyclist error was cited as a factor in 47 crashes that resulted in death. Twenty-two percent of all crashes, including 57 fatal crashes, had no contributing factors reported.

Though the last three years of data are somewhat stagnant — there wasn’t much change from 2010 to 2011 either — New York City is doing better than the U.S. overall, which saw significant increases in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities last year.

But with an average of 180 injuries and deaths every day in NYC, a lot has to change to eliminate traffic deaths. Bill de Blasio can’t waste any time if he’s going to bring these numbers close to zero while he’s mayor.