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New York City Pedestrian Safety Study, August 2010

In an ambitious study 7000 pedestrian crashes in New York City were examined with the following results:

  • Pedestrians are 10 time more likely to die than a motor vehicle operator in the event of a crash.
  • Pedestrians accounted for 52% of traffic fatalities from 2005-2009. Driver inattention was cited in nearly 36% of crashes resulting in pedestrians killed or seriously injured.
  • 27% of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involved driver failure to yield.
  • Serious pedestrian crashes involving unsafe speeds are twice as deadly as other such crashes.
  • Left turning pedestrian accidents out number right turn pedestrian accidents 3 to 1.
  • 80% of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve male drivers.
  • 79 of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve private automobiles as opposed to taxi, trucks and buses.
  • Most New Yorkers do not know that the standard speed limits for New York City streets is 30 MPH.
  • 2009 was the safest year on record for NYC.
  • Traffic fatalities in 2009 were down 35% from 2001.
  • NC’s traffic fatality rate is about 1/4 of the national rate and less than% of the next 10 largest cities in the US.
  • Traffic crashed cost the City’s economy $4.29 billion annually.
  • Serious pedestrian crashes are about two-thirds more deadly on major streets corridors than on smaller local streets.
  • Manhattan has four times as many pedestrians killed or seriously injured per mile of street compared to the other boroughs.
  • 43% of pedestrians killed in Manhattan lived in another borough or outside of New York City.

Crashes are a leading source of years of potential life lost and effects New Yorkers on a scale similar to cerebrovascular disease (strokes and high blood pressure). Although traffic deaths among young children are a small portion of the total, these crashes are a leading cause of death among people 5-24 only homicides and cancer kill more people in this age group in NYC. Pedestrian crashes are the second-most common cause of injury deaths in New York among children 5-14 and among adults over 45 years of age.

Since crashes often strike people in their prime productive years, there is significant economic damage to the City as well as to the injured pedestrian. the US Department of Transportation estimates that the national impact of crashes at $230.6 billion, representing 2.3% of the Gross Domestic Product as of 2000. To put this in perspective, Medicare annual costs in 2008 were just above 3% of the Gross Domestic Product.

While senior citizens make up just 12% of the population of NYC, they represent 38% of all pedestrian fatalities.

Another significant finding of this study was that left turning pedestrian crashes were more dangerous than right turning crashes. When a vehicle is turning left, the driver’s visibility is partially blocked by the A-pillar (the support between the windshield and the side window), making it harder to see pedestrians in the left crosswalk. Additionally left turning maneuvers require more mental effort then a right turn, leading to more driver error.

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