The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) had some good news to report at the start of the year: pedestrian fatalities decreased 6.4% in 2022. But a recent string of pedestrian accidents in the City shows that walking the streets of the five boroughs is still a major health hazard. In February alone, 6 pedestrians were killed and nearly 600 were injured in New York City.

Concerning Trend in Pedestrian Crashes

Crashes between drivers and pedestrians have been trending in the wrong direction for more than a decade.

In 2021, an estimated 7,485 pedestrians were struck and killed by motor vehicles nationwide—the highest number of pedestrian deaths in four decades, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Pedestrian fatalities increased from 13% to 17% of all traffic deaths from 2010 to 2020, an increase of 54%.

Less than 7 percent of NYC streets account for roughly half of the city’s pedestrian deaths and injuries

A study from insurance broker Jerry found that pedestrian deaths rose 65% from 2011 through 2021. Jerry’s study also found that 4 out of 5 pedestrian deaths occur in an urban area. New York City was the deadliest city for pedestrians from 2011 – 2020, says Jerry. Over that period, NYC saw 1,260 pedestrian deaths.

The New York Department of Health reports that motor vehicles kill around 300 pedestrians and injure 15,000 every year on the state’s roadways. NYC pedestrian fatalities had been trending down following the implementation of Vision Zero in 2014, but went back up during the COVID-19 pandemic amid a surge in dangerous driving.

However, the NYC DOT reported in January that pedestrian fatalities fell 6.3% in 2022 and were down 35.9% compared to 2013, when 184 pedestrians were killed citywide. Last year, there were 118 pedestrian deaths in NYC.

Recent Crashes Highlight NYC Pedestrian Risks

Mayor Adams was quick to call the 2022 traffic safety numbers proof that New York City is getting safer. Although that may be true in an overall sense, recent crashes highlight the risks NYC pedestrians face.

  • A Queens pedestrian was the victim of a hit-and-run accident on the Belt Parkway.
  • Six pedestrians, including two children, were injured in Washington Heights when a driver lost control of a stolen vehicle and drove onto the sidewalk.
  • Reckless driving killed a driver and a pedestrian in a Brooklyn accident along 18th Avenue. The route had previously been designated a Vision Zero dangerous corridor.
  • Over the President’s Day holiday weekend, four pedestrians were killed on NYC streets. The victims were a 7-year old girl, a 50-year old woman, a 52-year old home health aide, and a 47-year-old car wash worker.

Adams stressed that Vision Zero, or the elimination of all deaths and serious injuries from traffic accidents, remains the City’s goal. To that end, the DOT made safety improvements, such as raised crosswalks, all-way stop signs, and signal upgrades, to over 1,400 intersections in 2022.

Vision Zero reflects the idea that making streets safer by design, in particular by upgrading accident cluster areas, can bring down injury and fatality rates. In NYC, less than 7 percent of streets account for roughly half of the City’s pedestrian deaths and injuries. And while New York City provides evidence that this approach can be successful, it may not fully counteract the nationwide surge in reckless driving since the pandemic.

NYPD data shows that, in February 2023, 604 pedestrians were killed and 6 were injured in crashes across the City. The leading cause of all February traffic accidents was driver distraction. Other top causes were following too closely, failure to yield, speeding, improper lane usage, and alcohol.

Vision Zero a Distant Goal

Some safety advocates say intersection safety improvements are a step in the right direction, but that NYC needs to step up its overall street redesign efforts. For example, Adams has fallen short of his commitment to build 300 miles of protected bike lanes and 150 miles of bus lanes.

In response to the four President’s Day weekend pedestrian deaths, Amy Cohen of Families For Safe Streets said in a statement, “To get Vision Zero back on track, we need to roll out street redesigns much more quickly across the five boroughs.”

As part of Vision Zero, NYC has also launched a public awareness campaign called “Stop Let Them Cross.” The campaign introduced a new traffic rule that drivers must fully stop at all crosswalks and vows to crack down on drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians, but early returns on the effort have reportedly been lackluster.

NYC Pedestrian Accident? Call 855-SANDERS

Vision Zero is a step in the right direction. But it’s debatable whether Vision Zero initiatives could have stopped incidents like the driver of an SUV from running a stop sign, an NYPD officer from striking a woman while responding to a call, or a reckless driver from driving onto the sidewalk. And these initiatives do nothing to help pedestrian accident victims and their families receive compensation after a crash.

As long as there are pedestrian accidents in New York City, there will be a need for pedestrian accident lawyers. To schedule your free case review, call 855-SANDERS or contact us.