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New York City's Vision Zero initiative bucks national trend of rising road casualties

A new report shows New York City’s ‘Vision Zero’ initiative has helped the city buck national trends of rising road casualties, with last year’s 230 traffic fatalities the fewest ever, marking three successive years of decline and a 23% reduction since 2013.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has released New York City’s third annual Vision Zero report, which details the program’s continued progress. Vision Zero, which began in 2014, has helped deliver the safest three-year period on the city’s streets in recorded history. In 2016, traffic fatalities in New York City declined by 69 from 2013, when there were 299 traffic deaths. This is in stark contrast to national trends that have seen a 14% increase in traffic fatalities over the same period according to the National Safety Council projections. In addition to providing the data on past successes, the report also provides a comprehensive look forward at initiatives around education, enforcement, and engineering, that will be pursued to maintain momentum in 2017 and beyond.

Among the major themes of NYC’s successful Vision Zero efforts outlined in the report:
• Data-driven priority - In 2015, NYPD and NYCDOT had outlined their strategy in borough pedestrian safety action plans, data-driven efforts to drive down injuries and fatalities at targeted intersections and corridors. Two years later, through combined enforcement, education and engineering efforts, serious crashes have declined 30%;
• Designs to make streets safer - NYCDOT has completed over 240 safety projects and over 30 miles (48km) of protected bike lanes since January 2014. The agency has also brightened over 1,000 crosswalks with new streetlights, and added higher visibility crosswalks in priority areas. Pedestrian head-starts have been added to 1,248 intersections, giving pedestrians extra time to cross the street;
• Cross-agency evaluation and collaboration - The multi-agency Vision Zero task force brought agencies together to identify problems and collaborate on solutions, such as 2016’s dusk and darkness Initiative that identified a surge in serious pedestrian crashes in the fall and winter evening hours. In October, agencies focused their enforcement and education resources on dangerous driving behaviors during those hours, with traffic fatalities falling by 30%;
• Increased NYPD enforcement against dangerous driving - NYPD has dramatically increased its issuance of violations for speeding and failure to yield, by 78% and 243% respectively above annual averages prior to Vision Zero;
• Safer city vehicles - Agencies that own or regulate large fleets, including the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), and the MTA, have conducted safety training for over 70,000 vehicle operators since the beginning of Vision Zero;
• Increased engagement: In addition to an award-winning advertising campaign, the program has connected with citizens from senior centers to schools, where the ‘cross this way’ curriculum teaches children about the risks posed by reckless driving.

“Despite our record success in saving lives these last three years, we know that Vision Zero is just starting,” said de Blasio.

March 6, 2017

Written by Adam Frost

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