Announces goal of reducing traffic fatalities on city streets
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced an ambitious plan to reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents on city streets down to zero in 10 years and ordered a group of agencies to work together to come up with a comprehensive road map on how to achieve that goal.
The plan presented by de Blasio on Wednesday is called “Vision Zero” and the agencies involved, including the Police, Transportation, Health and Mental Hygiene departments and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, will function as a working group dedicated to implementing the plan.
So far this year, there have been 11 New Yorkers killed in traffic—seven of them pedestrians, according to the mayor’s office.
“This will be a top-to-bottom effort to take on dangerous streets and dangerous driving. We aren’t going to wait and lose a son, a daughter, a parent or a grandparent in another senseless and painful tragedy,” de Blasio said, adding that he wants the working group to have a particular focus on reducing accidents in which pedestrians are injured or killed.
“Our top responsibility is protecting the health and safety of our people. From tougher enforcement to more safely-designed streets and stronger laws, we’ll confront this problem from every side. And it starts today."
Brooklyn elected officials praised the mayor’s focus on making streets safer for pedestrians.
Borough President Eric Adams wrote on his twitter account, “We've seen too many victims on Brooklyn’s streets. I concur that a comprehensive approach like ‘Vision Zero’ will lead to a safer future.”
Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg) tweeted, “Big announcement from @BilldeBlasio today launching ‘Vision Zero’ and making NYC safer for all New Yorkers. Very excited!”
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyke Heights-Bensonhurst) said the mayor’s emphasis on preventing traffic fatalities is refreshing. "I applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio for forming this interagency group dedicated to implementing the ‘Vision Zero’ plan and preventing traffic fatalities. My number one concern will always be for public safety,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. “We can and must all work together towards making our streets a safe place where pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can all co-exist peacefully and responsibly."
The mayor was joined by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton as he made his "Vision Zero' announcement at a Woodside, Queens intersection where Noshat Nahian, 8, was struck and killed in the crosswalk while walking to school in December. Immediately after taking office earlier this month, de Blasio and Bratton dispatched a crossing guard to the intersection.
Being struck by a car is the leading cause of injury-related death for children younger than 14, and the second leading cause of injury-related death for senior citizens, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “Traffic crashes rank among the city’s leading causes of injury-related deaths and hospitalizations, but they are preventable,” Dr. Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner, said.
De Blasio also announced that speed cameras recently installed on city streets began issuing tickets on Jan. 15 to enforce the speed limit on dangerous streets.
Bratton announced the Police Department is increasing the number of personnel assigned to the Highway Division. Since taking office, the commissioner has increased personnel dedicated to the Highway Division by 10 percent, with the goal of increasing staffing by 50 percent, to a total of 270 officers.
“Our job is to save lives. We will be just as aggressive in preventing a deadly crash on our streets as we are in preventing a deadly shooting. Our police are going to enforce the laws on our streets consistently and effectively. This is going to be central to our work to keep New Yorkers safe. We will put the personnel and resources in place to protect New Yorkers,” Bratton said.
“This is our top priority. It is our job to get ahead of this epidemic on our streets. We know what the tools are, and we are going to immediately set to work on the concrete plans to put them into action,” said incoming Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
De Blasio and Bratton both said they wanted to emphasize that more rigorous enforcement against dangerous violations, like speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians, would be central to their efforts and that this new approach represented a significant new undertaking for the NYPD.