The year 2016 marked the third complete year of the Vision Zero era. We continued to see unacceptably dangerous conditions on our neighborhood streets, with growing traffic injuries and flagging enforcement efforts. But on the most important measure, traffic fatalities, 2016 marked a year of significant progress in Queens.
Fatalities. 2016 was the third consecutive year of decline for traffic fatalities in Queens. Total traffic fatalities in Queens are down by 32 percent, from 93 fatalities in 2013 to 63 fatalities in 2016. Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities also declined for the third consecutive year, a total of 35 percent from 54 fatalities in 2013 to 35 fatalities in 2016. Citywide, there was a 22 percent reduction in fatalities over the same three year period.
A partial list of the neighbors that we lost in 2016 is provided here.
Injuries. In 2016, there were 2,607 pedestrians injured in Queens by motor vehicles, a decline of 7% from the Vision Zero benchmark year, 2013 (but an increase of 7% from 2015). There have been 884 injuries to cyclists, a rise of 7% since 2013. Overall, including motor vehicle occupants, there have been 17,907 people injured in motor vehicle crashes in Queens over the past year, up 14% since 2013. Citywide, there has been a 7% increase in injuries over this time. Across the city, there has been a general upswing in injuries from vehicular crashes in recent months, a pattern that is seen across every borough. Part of this is likely due to an underlying citywide increase in traffic and pedestrian activity due to the city’s strong economy. But this contributing factor notwithstanding, Queens has seen the greatest percent increase in traffic-related injuries of any of the five boroughs, while Manhattan has seen a decline in injuries.
Enforcement. Overall, while enforcement of speeding, red light running, and not giving right of way to pedestrians remains significantly higher than pre-Vision Zero levels, tickets issued for illegal cell phone use, an important contributor to distracted driving, remains sharply down. Overall, enforcement across all four categories in Queens is up 3% since 2013. Citywide, enforcement is up 19%.
Overall, the level of enforcement according to these measures has flat in Queens. We watched for the promised surge in enforcement efforts timed with the beginning of the school year, but nothing more significant than previous years was ever implemented. We urge the NYPD to increase its focus on enforcement until the state legislature authorizes more urgently needed traffic safety cameras for the city.