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2. Safety

Photo of the Queens Boulevard Vision Zero redesign. It shows the new, green bike lanes on the boulevard’s access roads and the redesigned slip lanes that force drivers to come to a complete stop before transitioning from the main roadway to the access road.

Safety has always been a critical priority for DOT. In February 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio reinforced the City’s commitment to safety by introducing the Vision Zero Action Plan. Vision Zero is a cooperative effort among City agencies, led by the Mayor’s Office, to eliminate traffic fatalities and crash-related serious injuries. It reflects the philosophy that serious crashes are preventable. The Action Plan includes safer street designs and engineering, effective enforcement and deterrence of traffic safety violations, and education and outreach efforts to encourage safer choices by drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. DOT has a leading and critical role in the City’s Vision Zero efforts. 

Traffic fatalities in the City have fallen significantly over the past two decades—from 701 in 1990 to 271 in 2010. With the City’s renewed efforts, traffic related fatalities fell further from 249 in 2011 to an all-time low of 232 in 2015—and New York is now internationally recognized as a leading innovator in safe street design. Indeed, New York City has one of the lowest traffic fatality rates in the nation. However, the fatality rate in New York City still exceeds the rates in many of our peer cities around the world, including London and Hong Kong.

Vision Zero and our Global Peer Cities

The Vision Zero approach started in Sweden and has now been adopted by cities across Europe and the United States. The chart below shows how New York City compares in terms of street safety to its U.S. and global peers. Domestically, New York is leading the pack, with a significantly lower rate of fatalities from traffic crashes than American peer cities and the U.S. overall. The international comparisons with Hong Kong, London, and Stockholm, however, show how far cities have advanced toward eliminating traffic fatalities. Stockholm, a city of one million residents, has achieved a rate of .4 traffic-related fatalities per 100,000 of population, an amazing accomplishment. DOT will continue to look to our peer cities around the country and the globe for strategies to achieve Vision Zero.

This graph shows the traffic fatality and injury rates for select cities. These cities have the following rate of traffic fatalities per 100,000 of population: 5.9 in U.S. Peer Cities, 10.2 in the U.S. (average), 2.7 in NYC, 1.6 in Hong Kong, 1.5 in London, and 0.4 in Stockholm. These cities have the following rate of traffic fatalities and serious injuries per 100,000 of population: 42.5 in NYC, 36.1 in Hong Kong, 26.1 in London, and 18.8 in Stockholm.
* Peer Cities include all U.S. cities with populations over 500,000, and either 5,000 residents per square mile, or 20% non-car commuting: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. Source:  NHTSA Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS), U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates, American Community Survey (2014)
London - Transport for London (2015). Travel in London: Report 8.
Hong Kong – Transport Department, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2015). “Traffic Accidents.” 2015 Annual Transport Digest.
Stockholm - Trafik Analys (2016). Vägtrafikskador 2015 (Road Traffic Injuries 2015).

To advance towards the City’s Vision Zero goal, DOT has:

  • increased the pace with which we deliver street redesigns, simplifying complicated intersections and providing safe space for pedestrians and bicyclists at priority locations throughout the City;
  • expanded the rollout of Leading Pedestrian Intervals (which give crossing pedestrians a head start in advance of turning vehicles), installed brighter streetlights, and retimed traffic signals on high-crash streets;
  • led the effort to lower the City’s speed limit;
  • expanded the City’s speed camera program; and
  • led the City’s efforts to inform New Yorkers of the consequences of their actions through outreach and anti-reckless driving advertisements.

A full description of the multi-agency Vision Zero effort can be found here.

These initiatives, and others, have contributed to the safest year in New York City since 1910. However, the agency recognizes that any fatalities at all means we have more work to do.

Speed Camera Program

Mayor de Blasio, State Senator Klein, and other officials announce the launch of the speed camera program.

Speeding is a leading factor in fatal crashes: Nearly one in three traffic deaths in New York City involves a speeding driver. Pedestrians struck by vehicles traveling at 25 MPH are half as likely to die as those struck at 30 MPH.  Deterring speeding on New York City streets is a major component of Vision Zero, and in 2015 the City secured authorization from New York State to install speed cameras in 140 school speed zones.

The results have been dramatic: At locations where speed cameras were installed, speeding violations have plummeted by an average of 50 percent. The program is effective at deterring dangerous speeding, but is limited in scope. State law only allows for the use of speed cameras during school hours and within school speed zones. As a result, cameras cannot be used in nearly 85 percent of the locations and times where people are killed or seriously injured. DOT and the City will continue to advocate for changes to New York State law to expand the use of this life-saving technology.     

Integrate Vision Zero across all agency operations and initiatives.
Use improved data and analytics to more quickly reach the goal of Vision Zero.

Vision Zero Street Engineering

Vision Zero Street Engineering icon

Use Vision Zero Borough Pedestrian Safety Action Plans to guide engineering projects, safety education, and camera enforcement efforts

Drawing on crash data analysis and community feedback, DOT and the NYPD identified priority Vision Zero intersections and corridors across the City. DOT and its agency partners then developed a Safety Action Plan for each borough. Each year DOT strives to implement at least 50 safety projects at priority locations.

Transform high-crash arterial roads into Vision Zero Great Streets

The Great Streets program redesigns major corridors to prevent crashes, enhance mobility, increase accessibility, and bolster neighborhood vitality. The following projects are underway: Atlantic Ave. and Fourth Ave. in Brooklyn; the Grand Concourse in the Bronx; and Queens Blvd. in Queens. In addition, DOT is implementing Vision Zero capital redesigns on other major streets, including Delancey St. in Manhattan and Tillary St. in Brooklyn.   

Continue Safe Routes to Schools, Safe Streets for Seniors, and other Vision Zero capital programs

The agency will continue to design and implement pedestrian safety improvements, such as curb extensions, median refuges, and signal timing changes near schools and in neighborhoods with large numbers of aging New Yorkers. This effort is coupled with education and encouragement targeted at schools and senior centers.


Vision Zero Education and Awareness

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Continue Vision Zero safety education programs

The agency will continue its Vision Zero safety education programs for children, parents, and senior citizens, as well as its free bike helmet and car seat distribution programs. DOT is also working with the Department of Education on a Vision Zero curriculum for schools and is partnering with other City agencies to bring safety programs to community centers and afterschool programs.

Continue Vision Zero public awareness campaign

Your Choices Matter is DOT’s street safety awareness campaign that emphasizes the serious consequences of dangerous driving choices. In 2017, we will launch a variation of the campaign that addresses the most common causes of serious crashes. In the longer term, DOT will produce new content in order to remain visible in the City's rapidly-changing media climate.

Advocate for safe cycling around visually impaired pedestrians

Cycleyes is DOT's safe cycling awareness campaign that reminds cyclists to be on the lookout for visually impaired pedestrians.


Vision Zero Safety Enforcement/Analysis

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Continue speed camera enforcement

DOT will continue to refine its use of automated speed cameras to enforce the City’s 25 mile per hour speed limit within the 140 school speed zones authorized by state law.



Vision Zero Street Engineering

Vision Zero Safety Enforcement and Analysis icon

Evaluate left turn safety treatments

Left turns are a key factor in nearly 30 percent of pedestrian crashes involving a fatality or serious injury. DOT is evaluating an array of design treatments at 100 locations to determine if they encourage motorists to better yield to pedestrians and to slow vehicle turns. If successful, these designs will be expanded to additional intersections across the City.

Implement recommendations of Bicycle Safety Study and Action Plan

DOT, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and NYPD are developing recommendations based on a review of crashes in which a bicyclist was fatally or severely injured.


Vision Zero Safety Enforcement/Analysis

Vision Zero Safety Enforcement and Analysis icon

Expand speed camera enforcement

DOT will seek to pass state legislation to expand the City’s authority to use speed cameras at high-crash locations and during the most dangerous times near schools.

Mandate rear seat seatbelt use  

Unbelted back seat passengers involved in severe crashes are four times more likely to be killed as belted back seat passengers. DOT will advocate for a requirement that adult passengers riding in the back seat of private cars use seat belts.

Advocate for drugged driving reform for New York State 

A motorist can only be charged with driving while impaired by a drug if that drug is listed in New York State’s Public Health Law Some drugs, like synthetic marijuana, have not been added to that list, limiting prosecutions. DOT will advocate to make it illegal in New York State to drive after intentionally consuming any substance that causes impairment.

Expand partnerships with NYPD to improve crash data and analytics

Data on serious injuries from crashes is produced through a cumbersome process involving DOT, NYPD, and the State so that injury data is often not available until 12 months after a crash occurs. NYPD is transitioning to electronic crash reporting, which will enable DOT to analyze data earlier and more quickly respond to trends.

Pilot new technology to obtain data that can prevent crashes

DOT will expand the use of cameras and sensors, video analysis software, and vehicle monitoring data to expand our understanding of why crashes occur and where they are likely to occur in the future. For example, DOT may be able to highlight locations where vehicles have frequent hard braking events or use video analytics to determine where drivers are less likely to yield to pedestrians.