While injuries declined, a surge in New York traffic fatalities for all categories of road users – pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and passengers – was recorded during the third trimester of 2020 compared to the same period of previous years. 77 people died in motor vehicle accidents this summer compared to respectively, 56, 59, 65, 61, 60, 76 and 82 in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. This recent data brings the number of traffic fatalities in the city to its highest since the beginning of Vision Zero and very close to pre-Vision Zero levels. The rising number of traffic deaths occurred in a city that had far less people living in it than usual as many New Yorkers took off for the summer and most foreign tourists were unable to enter the US because of the Covid-19 restrictions. Speeding is a factor in many of these fatalities. Street safety advocates are also pointing the finger at Mayor de Blasio who decline to listen and apply the recommendations of his COVID-19 transportation recovery panel.
The number of motorist deaths was at its highest since the beginning of Vision Zero in 2014. 31 motorists died in New York City during the third quarter of 2020 compared to respectively, 21, 26, 22, 13, 16, 21 and 36 during the third quarter of 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. Motorist fatalities which were still on a declining trend during the third quarter of 2019 are now on a perfectly flat trend.
Despite more than doubling – from 4 to 9 – between the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2020, the number of passenger deaths recorded during the third quarter of 2020 remains on a slightly declining trend when looking at the entire Vision Zero period.
Pedestrian deaths increased from 25 to 28 during the third quarter of 2020 compared to to the third quarter of 2019. This number is still low compared to the number of pedestrian deaths recorded at the beginning of Vision Zero and before. Globally the trend of pedestrian accident deaths is on the decline.
Cyclist deaths are the most preoccupying. They reached a record high with 9 people dying in bicycle accidents in New York City over the summer of 2020 compared to respectively 6, 3, 6, 6, 8, 8, and 1 during the summers of 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. With more and more New Yorkers choosing to commute by bikes instead of using the subway and the city not providing safe enough bike routes, the cyclist carnage is expected to continue in the months to come.
At the opposite of crash fatalities, crash injuries recorded a record low during the third trimester. 13,437 people were injured in auto accidents in New York City during the third quarter of 2020 compared to respectively 16,083, 16,300, 15,860, 16,048, 13,998, 13,472 and 14,900 during the same period of 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. Injuries declined among motorists, passengers and pedestrians but increased among cyclists.
The number of motorist injuries recorded a significant decline during the third quarter of 2020 with 5,931 motorists injured in crashes compared to respectively 7,437, 7,183, 7,004, 7,006, 6,043, 4,502 and 4,968 in the same period of 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. While the trend is still rising, this is the first time since the summer of 2014 that motorist injuries are below 6,000.
Passenger injuries recorded a record low with 3,890 passengers injured in crashes over the summer compared to respectively 5,056, 5,228, 5,020, 4,121, 5,193, 5,754 during the summers of 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. Globally passenger injuries are on a declining trend but it is the first time that the number of passengers injured is below 4,000.
Pedestrian injuries were also at a record low with 1,549 pedestrians injured in traffic accidents during the third quarter of the year. While pedestrian injuries have been on a declining trend since the beginning of the Vision Zero program in 2014, it is the first time the number of injuries is below 2,000. With almost no tourists in the city and many New Yorkers taking off for the summer, there were less pedestrians than usual on New York city streets.
While pedestrian injuries were for the first time below 2,000, cyclist injuries were for the first time above 2,000 with a record 2,067 people injured in bicycle accident over the summer of 2020. While mayor de Blasio has been encouraging New Yorkers to switch their metrocard for a bike lock, the city has been lagging in providing necessary safety infrastructure for the increase of cyclists all over the city. As a result bicycle injuries recorded a significant increase during the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same period of the previous years.