Despite improvements, New York remains dangerous for pedestrians

This article looks at how pedestrian deaths are rising in New York, despite overall traffic deaths falling.

Traffic safety is a complicated issue in New York, especially in New York City. While the nation's largest city recently celebrated seeing overall traffic deaths hit an all-time low of just 214 in 2017, a figure that was less likely to be celebrated was that fatal pedestrian accidents are on the increase, both in New York City and across the state. In fact, according to NBC New York, the state has some of the most dangerous intersections in the United States for pedestrians and one of the highest overall pedestrian death tolls in the country.

Pedestrians not enjoying safety improvements

New York City's Vision Zero initiative, which has the lofty goal of eliminating all traffic deaths in the city, has been credited with improving traffic safety for some groups. For example, as recently as 2013 there were 299 traffic fatalities in the city, yet last year that figure dropped massively to 214. Experts say lower speed limits and improved traffic safety infrastructure, both a result of Vision Zero, are largely to credit for that fall in fatalities.

However, pedestrians still face serious risks on the streets of New York. Pedestrian deaths in the city actually increased slightly from 131 in 2015 to 137 in 2016. Furthermore, a recent study by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) says that pedestrians across the state of New York are much more likely to be fatally struck at intersections than in any other state. About 33 percent of pedestrian deaths in New York occur at intersections, compared to the national average of 20 percent.

New York also has the fourth-most pedestrian deaths in the nation. Collectively, New York, California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida account for 43 percent of U.S. pedestrian fatalities despite those five states representing just 30 percent of the national population.

Why are pedestrian deaths rising?

There are many theories as to why pedestrian deaths are on the rise. As the New York Times reports, the fact that the economy is improving and that gas prices are low means that more people simply have the financial means to drive more often. As a result, traffic is increasing, which creates more chances for accidents to happen. However, the fatality rate is increasing at a faster rate than the total miles driven, which suggests that increased traffic alone does not explain the problem.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, distracted driving and walking are pointed out as likely causes of the increased fatality rate. However, tracking the problem is difficult since few drivers admit to being distracted after an accident. Another possible reason is marijuana use. The GHSA points out that while it cannot prove a causal link between marijuana use and pedestrian fatalities, states that have legalized recreational mar ijuana have seen especially dramatic spikes in pedestrian deaths.

Help for accident victims

Anybody who has been hurt in an accident, whether they are pedestrians, drivers, or passengers, should seek out legal representation as soon as possible. A personal injury attorney can help accident victims in a number of ways, especially when it comes to assisting them with filing claims for whatever financial compensation they may be entitled to.