During the third quarter of 2021, a total of 71 people died in crashes in New York City including 24 pedestrians, 5 cyclists, 9 passengers and 33 motorists. Since the Covid19 crisis started, auto accident fatalities in New York City have peaked and street safety activists are pointing fingers at the de Blasio administration for failing to keep the streets safe.
A total of 14,335 people were injured in traffic accidents in New York City during Q3 2021 compared to respectively 13,437, 16,083, 16,300, 15,860, 16,048, 13,998, 13,472, 14,900 during Q3 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013. Before 2015, the passengers category was the one with the most injuries with usually between 5,000 and 6,000 passenger injuries during Q3. In 2015 after the introduction of the Vision Zero program, passenger injuries significantly declined to 4,121 while motorist injuries jumped from 4,502 to 6,043. The increase in motorist injuries is linked to an increase in accidents related to distracted driving and more and more people using their cellphone while driving. After the first year of Vision Zero, passenger injuries during Q3 went back above 5,000 and then, back below 5,000 after the Covid19 crisis hit in 2020. Motorist injuries, mostly linked to distracted driving continued to rise reaching a record high in 2019 with 7,437 motorists injured during Q3.
6,349 motorists were injured in car accidents in New York City during the third quarter of 2021 compared to 5,931 for the same period of 2020 and 7,437 for the same period of 2019. Motor vehicle accident injuries reached a peak during Q3 2019 in New York City and then dropped to levels never seen since 2014 when the Covid19 crisis hit. They were up during this year’s Q3 but not as high as what they used to be during Q3 2019.
Significant increase in passenger injuries from Q3 2020 to Q3 2021
The number of motor vehicle passengers injured during the third quarter of 2021 significantly declined in 2020 during the Covid19 crisis but this year, it was on its way back up to levels close to 5,000, like it was before the crisis. There is very little doubt that if activities in the city get back to normal by next year the number of passenger injuries during Q3 will be back above 5,000.
The cyclists are the only category of road users who experienced an increase in injuries during the Covid crisis as many New Yorkers afraid of travelling by public transportation switched their MetroCard for a bike lock or a membership to Citi Bike. With many new cyclists on the road, bicyclist injuries reached a record high during Q3 2020 with 2,067 cyclists injured. This year, the situation turned to the opposite with the number of bicycle accident injuries reaching a record low at 1,406 during Q3. Perhaps, the challenges of commuting in the city by bike might have discouraged a lot of new cyclists who switched back to public transportation mode or got a car and those who kept cycling learned how to better ride in the city and avoid bicycle accidents.
Q3 Pedestrian injuries at record low
Pedestrian injuries reached a record low during the third quarter of 2021 as the pedestrian activity in the city also remained lower than usual. As US borders were still closed to international tourism and companies kept many employees working from home, the streets of New York City were not as busy as usual. 1,760 pedestrians were injured between July 1st 2021 and September 31st 2021 compared to 1,541 during the same period of 2020 and 2,146 during the same period of 2019. With borders re-opening soon to tourism, pedestrian injuries will probably be back above 2,000 in Q3 2022.
71 people died in car accidents in New York City during the third quarter of 2021 compared to respectively 77, 56, 59, 65, 61, 60, 76 and 82 during the same period of 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. After gradually declining to a record low at 56 during the third quarter of 2019, auto accident deaths jumped to 77 during Q3 2020, a record high since Vision Zero started to be implemented in 2014. During Q3 2021, The number of fatalities remained higher than usual with, however, a significant decline in bicycle accident deaths. Last year fatalities were mostly explained by people speeding on roads emptier than usual. This year, the high number of fatalities is explained by more people than ever using their cars because they are still scared to use public transportation.
The number of motorist deaths which had been below 30 since Vision Zero started is back above 30 and almost at pre-Vision Zero levels. Most street safety activist have been blaming the high number of motorist deaths on reckless driving and speeding on empty roads during the Covid19 crisis in 2021. Now a year later, motor vehicle traffic is busier than what it was before 2020. As a result speeding on empty roads is limited but motorists fatalities keep increasing. The high number of deaths is now being attributed to a higher number of people using a car rather than travelling by public transportation because they are scared of getting infected by the Delta variant of the Covid19.
Just like motorist deaths, passenger deaths are also recording numbers higher than usual. Bill de Blasio who until 2019 was on track to leave a legacy of safer streets totally lost control of the situation since the beginning of Covid19 crisis. Vision Zero Phase 2 was never implemented and the mayor is ending his term with fatalities at pre-Vision zero levels when it comes to NYC motor vehicle passengers.
On the positive side, pedestrian deaths which were the number one focus of Vision Zero, did reach a record low during Q3 2021. 24 pedestrians died in crashes during Q3 2021 compared to respectively 28, 25, 26, 30, 26, 38 and 39 during the same period of 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. Hopefully this declining trend will continue under the new mayor next year.
After a record high at 9 during Q3 2020, bicycle accident fatalities fell to 5 during the third quarter of 2021. The record number of bicycle accident deaths last year was linked to a very high amount of new cyclists. In recent statistics, the DOT indicated that, during Q3 2020, more than 25,000 cyclists crossed the city’s 4 East River bridges on an average weekday compared to 21,700 during the same period of 2019, representing an increase of 21%. It will be interesting to see the Q3 2021 statistics from the DOT when they come out to figure out how many New Yorkers gave up on bicycling and how many kept using their bikes.