Deadly Car Accidents Soar in New York City

With so many people living, working and commuting in the NYC area it’s no surprise the Big Apple ranks among the top 5 for worst traffic in the nation. Densely populated areas combined with heavily congested roads is a recipe for disaster when it comes to traffic accidents. And while more people continued to work from home last year, 2021 has still proven to be among the deadliest for auto accidents in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island and The Bronx.  

As former Mayor de Blasio recently stepped aside, the roads in New York City are no safer than they were when he first took office back in 2014. This past year traffic fatalities have increased to their highest levels in almost 10 years. According to city records, every three days on average, a vehicle accident claims a pedestrian life. At least 189 people, including 87 pedestrians and 12 cyclists, have been killed by accidents on city streets through Sept. 14. That’s more than a 25% increase from the same period last year and the greatest number of fatalities in that period since 2013.

“Every month in 2021 we were breaking records for lives lost to traffic violence. These are our neighbors, our parents, our siblings, and our children — killed because our elected leaders failed to expand the significant early success of de Blasio’s Vision Zero,” said Families for Safe Streets member Judy Kottick.

Even prior to the pandemic, deadly traffic accidents were on the rise with pedestrian fatalities growing in 2018 and 2019. As for cyclists, deaths nearly tripled during the same time period. Sadly, these numbers continued to rise in 2021, partly brought on by a growing number of cars on the road. According to state records, between September 2020 through the end of August, the number of newly registered vehicles skyrocketed by more than 120,000 compared with the previous 12-month period. There’s also a greater number of S.U.V.s and pickup trucks on the road—types of vehicles that cause more serious injury when involved in an accident. Approximately one-third of all vehicles in fatal crashes in 2021 through mid-September involved S.U.V.s. 

By the end of July 2021, more people lost their lives in traffic-related accidents in the first half of 2021 than any other year under de Blasio. This, despite his pledge to ‘Vision Zero’ in which the goal was to bring New York City traffic deaths to zero. Below is a breakdown of just how daunting the number of fatal auto accidents were to the people of New York City during the first half of 2021. 

  • Pedestrians: 64 pedestrians were killed in fatal vehicle accidents.
  • Drivers52 motorists were killed in crashes. May 2021, with 16 deaths, was the second most lethal month overall for drivers since 2014. The average number of motorist fatalities each month is seven.
  • Bicyclists: Eight cyclists were killed in fatal auto-related crashes during this 6-month time span. Half of these fatal accidents occurred in the Bronx. 
  • Totals: 124 people were killed as a result of an automobile accident taking place in New York City for the first half of 2021.
  • Borough Breakdown: When it came to auto-related deaths, the first half of 2021 was the deadliest in Brooklyn since 2014. In May, the BronxQueens, and Brooklyn each broke or tied records for the number of deaths for any May in the past eight years. These record numbers come as the city nears its 500th auto accident death in Brooklyn, 300th in Manhattan, and 550th in Queens since 2014. 

Along with bigger and greater vehicles sharing the roads, the rising number of traffic deaths can be attributed to a surge of speeding and reckless driving, suggest street safety experts. In some parts of the city more than others, people have become emboldened by lax prosecution and more open roads due to the pandemic. The city also shares the blame for not moving quickly enough to create more bicycle lanes and safer areas for pedestrians.

Currently, steps are being taken by city and state officials to identify reckless drivers, including the development of a network of approximately 1,400 automated speed cameras in school zones. In addition, state lawmakers are being urged to pass traffic safety bills that are stricter in enforcing safer driving actions. 

Much still needs to be done to significantly reduce the number auto-related injuries and fatalities occurring in New York City each year. Incoming Mayor Eric Adams has vowed to build upon Vision Zero and implement the steps and new ideas to make New York City a safer place for all those who share the roads. 

These changes will take time and there will undoubtably continue to be serious, vehicle-related accidents throughout New York City. Being cognizant of your surroundings whether driving, walking or cycling is among the best way to minimize the risks of occupying space on the city streets. However, nothing is 100% avoidable, and in the event you are hurt in an auto accident, be sure to get the medical attention you need right away, along with quality legal representation, which can be critical toward the payment of future bills.      

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