Robert Kolker reports on the recent spike in traffic-related fatalities in New York City:
In 2010, in keeping with Bloomberg’s penchant for data-driven analysis, Sadik-Khan issued the results of a report the DOT had undertaken on pedestrian safety. The idea, she says, was to help the city learn “who gets hit, why they get hit, where they get hit, and how they get hit.” The prime culprit turned out to be speeding cars. The study noted that a pedestrian struck at 40 miles per hour is four times more likely to die than one struck at 30 miles per hour, who in turn is six times more likely to die than one struck at 20 miles per hour. The report also showed that 74 percent of the car crashes resulting in fatalities and serious injuries took place at intersections, not highways. The most likely way to die on the street in a car-related crash in New York, the DOT’s data suggests, is the same way Jessica Dworkin died—at the hands of a driver who was turning at an intersection. Most of those incidents do not appear to be the pedestrian’s fault: 57 percent of those crashes occurred while the pedestrian was crossing with the signal. The problem, in other words, is cars.
Safety advocates say the DOT needs to continue to look for new engineering solutions that can help slow down speeding vehicles. But the biggest problem, they say, lies with law enforcement. Analyzing DOT data and police reports, Transportation Alternatives has found that of all the crashes between 1995 and 2009 in which a pedestrian or bicyclist was killed and the cause of the crash could be determined, 60 percent were caused by illegal driver behavior. Despite the known dangers of speeding, most police precincts in New York only hand out about two speeding tickets per week. In 2011, cops gave out more tickets for drivers with cars with tinted windows (4,967) than they did for drivers who were speeding (3,779).