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New York City’s deadliest summer compromises street safety

In spite of pledges to end fatal traffic accidents by 2024, policies from City Hall such as New York City’s Vision Zero Program face new scrutiny after last summer’s dismal statistics. Traffic-related deaths in the Big Apple soared to their highest point since 2014, according to recent reporting. At the same time, the issuance of traffic violation tickets dropped by more than 50% compared to the summer of 2019.

Among the dead were bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists and even a three-month old baby killed in her stroller on a Brooklyn sidewalk. Just as in many parts of the country, experts attribute the dramatic rise in fatalities to speeding and reckless driving habits of drivers who grew accustomed to travelling on less crowded roads with a smaller police presence in 2020.

With more drivers now on the road and a surge in newly registered vehicles, however, the streets of New York have grown more hazardous. Besides reckless driving, other contributing factors include driver distraction, impaired driving and failure to yield the right of way.

Pedestrian traffic fatalities surging

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the pedestrian traffic fatality rate went up in 2020 by an unprecedented 21% over the previous year when factoring in total vehicle miles travelled. The most important trends influencing this rise were higher instances of reckless driving behaviors and the higher incidence of SUV’s causing severe injury or death to pedestrians.

The combination of poor visibility of pedestrians crossing the road and unsafe crosswalks also contributes to higher rates of pedestrian fatalities. Most of these accidents occur after dark, and reckless or impaired driving account for almost half of traffic accidents resulting in pedestrian fatalities.

The aftermath of a serious accident

For the victims of a serious accident, finding a path forward may be difficult. Pedestrian injuries are often catastrophic, requiring multiple surgeries, long-term medical care and rehabilitation, and in addition, lost wages and pain and suffering. Getting insurance to pay claims without delay is often an additional challenge.

If the accident was due to the reckless, impaired, or distracted actions of another driver, it is possible to file a negligence claim in civil court. New York recognizes comparative negligence, in which the victim may claim the percentage of the damages attributable to the defendant. Finding out your options is the first step toward getting the compensation that you deserve.

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