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How will New York respond to 2019's surge in traffic deaths?

By now, most New Yorkers are familiar with the Mayor de Blasio's "Vision Zero" program, which aims to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities. For five consecutive years under the program, New York experienced a consistent decline in crash-related injuries and deaths. However, a fatality spike in 2019 has safety experts and critics wondering how to maintain the program's gains.

A dangerous year on NYC roads

In 2018, traffic fatalities in the five boroughs hit a record low of 203. However, the program took a step back last year, with a total of 215 fatalities -- a six percent increase.

While an increase in dangerous accidents was not the outcome Vision Zero proponents had hoped for, some remain optimistic that more progress on the horizon.

 “Progress is not always going to be linear," said Holly Trottenberg, Commissioner of the city's Department of Transportation. "This is not a good year, in particular the tragic spike in cyclist deaths in Brooklyn, but there’s always more to do,” she added, referencing the jump in bicycle fatalities from 10 in 2018 to 28 in 2019.

Safety initiatives in 2020

This year, the city Department of Transportation and the NYPD are ramping up safety efforts in an attempt to recapture Vision Zero's earlier success. The city will be cracking down on dangerous drivers, particularly those in large vehicles like big rigs. According to the DOT, large vehicles like tractor-trailers, vans and SUVS were involved in 43 percent of crashes that killed cyclists and pedestrians in 2019.

Other safety initiatives that are expected to curb dangerous accidents in 2020 include:

  • Increased truck inspections and enforcement
  • A new speed camera program that automatically tickets speeding drivers in certain areas
  • Reduced speed limits on Third Avenue and Hamilton Avenue in Brooklyn

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