When it comes to New York road fatalities, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that cars and roads are safer today than ever before, resulting in a 4 percent decrease in traffic fatalities. The bad news is that pedestrians are at more of a risk than ever before. According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association, the number of fatal pedestrian accidents has increased significantly over the past few years. Pedestrian fatalities have jumped 10 percent since last year, after a 19 percent increase from 2009 to 2014. The number of pedestrian deaths in 2015 accounts for close to 15 percent of traffic fatalities.
The final numbers for 2015 are still being tabulated, but the projected increase means that the total number of pedestrian deaths is the highest it has been since the 5,449 pedestrian deaths in 1996. New York, along with California, Florida and Texas, accounted for 42 percent of the overall pedestrian death count.
What is the reason for this steep increase? Cheaper gas means that more cars are on the road. Walkable communities have led to more people walking or biking to work.
It is not surprising that cell phones also play a major role in these accidents. One study by Public Health Reports in 2010 showed that pedestrian deaths at the hands of distracted drivers increased 50 percent over a five year period.
Drivers are not the only ones distracted. Pedestrians are also more distracted than they used to be by looking at their phones while walking or using headphones and not being able to hear oncoming vehicles. Pedestrians walking at night or while legally drunk are also more likely to get hit by a vehicle.
In any case, New York officials will be working to ensure that the number of pedestrian deaths in the coming years decreases significantly.
Source: The Washington Post, "As roads become safer for drivers and passengers, pedestrian deaths still rise," Ashley Halsey III, March 8, 2016