By David Brand
Overall traffic deaths declined in New York City in 2018 and were on track to reach their lowest level since 1910, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday.
As of Dec. 27, 196 people had been killed in vehicle crashes citywide and the number of cyclists and vehicle occupants killed in collisions dropped to all-time lows. The streets remained a dangerous place for pedestrians, however: At least 150 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes this year, according to city data.
De Blasio credited the Vision Zero initiative for the overall decrease in traffic deaths, which have dropped 34 percent since 2013. Last year, 222 people died in New York City vehicle crashes.
“With each passing year, New Yorkers continue to see Vision Zero save lives,” De Blasio said.. “Over the last five years, we have lowered the speed limit, increased enforcement and designed hundreds of safer streets. But no loss of life on our streets is acceptable, and the twelve pedestrians killed so far this past month are a sober reminder that this new milestone is less a cause for celebration than a reminder that even with this year’s success, we have much more to do to meet our ambitious goal.”
Of the 196 people killed this year, 10 were cyclists — down from 24 cyclist deaths in 2017 — and 36 were vehicle occupants, down from 58 in 2017.
State Sen.-elect Jessica Ramos praised the Vision Zero initiative, which includes a citywide speed limit reduction, the addition of more bike lanes and infrastructure improvements that make city streets safer for pedestrians.
“Vision Zero has saved lives in our community,” said Ramos, who represents Senate District 13 in Queens. "Cyclists and pedestrians have all seen the greatest benefit from the efforts of the program. Street redesign, like the one needed on Northern Boulevard, expanded bike lanes and fewer cars on the road have made the streets safer for all our families, but we will not rest until there are zero deaths year after year.”
Queens Assemblymember Michael DenDekker said the overall decrease in traffic deaths was a positive development, but the city still had to embark on several projects to improve safety.
“Although I am extremely pleased with the overall reduction in traffic fatalities, I still believe that there is much more work to be done,” DenDekker said. “We need an expansion of the speed camera program, increased penalties for vehicles with multiple camera violations, and traffic lights that allow pedestrians to cross the street without any vehicles moving.”