Traffic fatalities at 100-year low

Traffic fatalities are at an all-time low citywide, according tostatistics released last week by the Department ofTransportation.

We are now on track to make 2011 the safest year for New YorkCity drivers, cyclists and pedestrians in more than 100 years,said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a December 29 press conference heldat the Grand Army Plaza Brooklyn Public Library.

Last year’s 237 recorded traffic fatalities are the lowestannual tally since the city began keeping track in 1910 — down 40percent from 2001 — according to the mayor. Also, he pointed out,the fatality rate is considerably lower than the rest of thenation.

On a per capita basis, we’ve had two-thirds fewer crashes thanthe nation as a whole, further solidifying our standing asAmerica’s safest big city, Bloomberg said.

The mayor was joined at the podium by Police CommissionerRaymond Kelly and Department of Transportation Commissioner JanetteSadik-Khan, who pointed out that the issue is far fromresolved.

We have much more to do, Sadik-Khan said. These numbers arenot the finish line. They’re really just mile markers for us.

The commissioner said she has her sights set on loftier goals,namely a 50 percent reduction from the city’s 2007 traffic fatalityrates. That year, there were 274 lives lost from traffic accidents,according to agency statistics. However, Sadik-Khan noted, therecent drop in fatalities is a positive sign.

We have made significant inroads in reducing the number oftraffic fatalities we have on the streets of New York, Sadik-Khansaid.

She credits 150 projects citywide that her agency has completedin the last four years as critical to the reduction of trafficfatalities.

Everything from building pedestrian safety islands, toincreasing the number of crosswalks to pedestrian countdownsignals, signaling timing, all of that has contributed to havingthe lowest number of traffic fatalities in New York City history,Sadik-Khan said.

She and Bloomberg both thanked Kelly for leading the policeeffort to decrease roadway fatalities.

The aim of our enforcement efforts is to save lives, Kellysaid. That is reflected in the over one million moving violationsthat have been issued this year.

The mayor also pointed to $4.5 billion the city spends annuallyin hospital costs, lost wages and lost tax revenues because oftraffic deaths as another reason the fight has been worthfighting.

The fact is, pedestrian fatalities are at a record low,Bloomberg said. That shows smart government policies really canmake a difference.

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