New York City has seen an increase in the number of traffic fatalities from July of last year through June of this year leaving many to wonder if distracted driving is to blame. A total of 291 people died in car accidents over this period compared to 236 for the same period one year prior. It is the first year-over-year increase in traffic fatalities since 2007, which saw 310 fatalities. The same increase in seen in pedestrian and bicycle accidents as well with 176 cyclists and pedestrians killed last year compared to 158 the year before.
These figures are according to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayor’s Management Report. NYC’s Transportation Commissioner has an idea of what might be to blame for the increase in traffic fatalities. She said since there currently is no smartphone app that will ping a driver to alert them to an upcoming crosswalk, perhaps that text should wait until later. According to the Department of Transportation, 2010 saw 9,200 traffic-related injuries and 41 fatalities in New York City related to distracted driving.
The numbers seem to point to the rise in the use of cellphones while driving AND walking as more and more people, pedestrians among them are paying attention to the telephone screen rather than the task at hand. In light of the increase in fatalities and injuries due to distracted driving, the city recently launched a public safety campaign by painting the word “LOOK” in large letters on curbs and inside crosswalks in more than 100 intersections throughout the city. The Os in the word look like eyes and appear to be looking towards oncoming traffic.
Talking or texting while driving is not the only cause of bicycle and pedestrian accidents however. In an effort to curb the number of accidents caused by bikes flying into opening cab doors the city plans to move the LOOK campaign to the insides of taxis as well. Perhaps the campaign will reduce the number of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits as well as traffic accidents in general. As many NYC residents may know, anyone injured in a car, pedestrian or bicycle accident is entitled to seek compensation for the negligence of another who contributed to the accident and subsequent injuries.
Source: The Atlantic, “Traffic Fatalities Are on the Rise in New York. Is Distracted Driving to Blame?,” Nate Berg, Sept. 27, 2012
Our Manhattan law firm handles a range of personal injury and wrongful death cases involving catastrophic injuries that result from pedestrian, bicycle and car accidents, such as those discussed in the above post.