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new york traffic deaths

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Traffic in New York is pretty intense, but maybe it’s not as bad as you think. According to new data from city officials, New York traffic deaths have hit a record low in over a century. In 2018, the number of traffic fatalities fell below 200. Within six months into 2018, there were only 81 deaths in the city.

Is Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero Plan Making New York Streets Safer?

This is definitely a plus. However, the steep decline in traffic deaths come with stricter traffic enforcement. It’s part of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to make traffic fatalities non-existent.

“With this action plan, the City is making a bold new commitment to improve street safety in every neighborhood and in every borough – with expanded enforcement against dangerous moving violations like speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians, new street designs and configurations to improve safety, broad public outreach and communications, and a sweeping legislative agenda to increase penalties for dangerous drivers and give New York City control over the safety of our own streets,” the Vision Zero plan explained.

The Vision Zero plan has made some pretty big improvements since its inception. The traffic death rate in New York was hovering around 299 deaths in 2013. But since has dipped below 200 fatalities in 2018. Not a bad five year reduction. So the plan is working — right?

There is still some work to do when it comes to making the streets of New York safer. One of the biggest catalysts for the decrease in traffic deaths could be attributed to the lowering of the speed limit on nearly all city streets to 25 miles per hour. There are also other more stringent laws being enforced with the Vision Zero plan, like yielding to pedestrians, and the addition of 20 plus miles of protected bicycle lanes.

This is important, since bicycle and pedestrian deaths by motor vehicle continue to be an issue. “Drivers haven’t taken their responsibility to yield very seriously,” Mayor de Blasio told the New York Times. “There has been a lot of enforcement, and there will be more.”

More Enforcement Coming For New York Drivers, And It Could Get Pretty Serious

With less traffic deaths and a focus on making New York streets safer for everyone comes with stricter enforcement. This was made pretty clear by Mayor de Blasio and the Vision Zero objectives. So what does this mean for New Yorkers on the road?

One of the biggest enforcements already affecting drivers in the city are cell phone violations. This enforcement is aimed at keeping drivers alert while behind the wheel, able to avoid pedestrian, bicyclist, and vehicle accidents that could be fatal. According to the New York DMV, “If you use a portable electronic device while you drive (except to call 911 or to contact medical, fire or police personnel about an emergency), you can receive a traffic ticket and be subject to a fine and a surcharge.”

Driving under the influence is another big enforcement initiative part of the Vision Zero plan. “If you are found to have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher,you will be charged with a DWI,” according to New York traffic lawyer, Michael Block. “A BAC of more than 0.05 but less than 0.07 can yield a charge for Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI/Alcohol). A Zero Tolerance Law can be charged to any driver under the age of 21 found to have a BAC of 0.02 – 0.07.”

What You Can Do When Driving In New York

Staying safe behind the wheel is not solely for drivers. You also need to ensure you are making the roads safe for all. Yes, this is definitely easier said then practiced, but you can take a few safety precautions while driving.


First and foremost, don’t have your cell phone in your hand. This includes GPS use. Not only can you avoid a potential accident, but also avoid a pricey ticket. Getting a traffic infraction for using your phone while driving can result in a fine over $200 with 5 points added to your license.

Drinking and driving can obviously be costly. Speeding tickets, failure to yield to pedestrians, reckless driving, failure to stop for school busses, and illegal lane changes should all be avoided. And if you do get a ticket or if you get into a car accident, always call a lawyer. What do you think about the Vision Zero plan? We want to hear from you.