The first half of 2018 saw the lowest number of traffic fatalities ever measured during a six-month period in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday.
As of June 30, officials recorded a record-low 81 traffic fatalities in the city so far this year. This is only the second instance in which fewer than 100 traffic fatalities occurred in New York City in a half-year period.
The mayor cited the city’s Vision Zero efforts for the improvement and specifically the city’s speed-camera law, which de Blasio is fighting to preserve as the state Senate threatens the program.
“No loss of life on our streets is acceptable,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Under Vision Zero, we have made enormous strides towards safer streets for all, with traffic fatalities declining for the past four-and-a-half-years. But we will never rest on our laurels, and will keep fighting for the safety of our fellow New Yorkers.”
There are 140 school zones in New York City that currently have speed cameras under state legislation. City officials and transit advocates say that the speed camera program has helped keep children safe from traffic accidents. The program is set to expire on July 25 unless the Senate passes an extension.
Lawmakers would need to go back to Albany for a special session to pass that extension, as this year’s legislative session ended in June.
“The state Senate’s failure to act on speed cams puts this progress, and the lives of school children, at risk,” de Blasio said. “They must act now — lives are at stake.”
Previously, the record low for traffic fatalities over a six-month period was the first half of 2017, when officials recorded 93 fatalities.
So far in 2018, traffic fatalities have decreased or stayed the same in all modes of transportation except for motorcyclists compared to the first six months of last year. Across the city, cyclist fatalities dropped from 10 to 7, motor vehicle occupant fatalities from 27 to 15, and pedestrian fatalities remained at 47. Motorcyclist fatalities, though, saw a slight increase from 11 to 12.
“Nowhere else in America has seen our continued year-over-year declines in traffic fatalities,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg in a statement. “Now, under the mayor’s leadership, we are going on a fifth straight year of overall declines in fatalities with national trends going in the reverse direction.”
Trottenberg also touched on the speed camera issue, saying that they play a “central role” in making city streets safer, and that she is “concerned that inaction by Albany could bring a tragic end to that progress.”