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City officials attribute 12 percent decrease in traffic deaths to Vision Zero

According to New York City traffic accident records, somewhere in the city roughly every two hours, a pedestrian is injured or killed. From speeding vehicles that blow through traffic lights to drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who are attempting to cross the street, it's dangerous to be a pedestrian in New York City.

In an effort to reduce traffic accidents overall and especially those involving pedestrians, last year Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city's new Vision Zero campaign. Much like the name suggests, the goal of the campaign is to reduce the number of traffic-related fatalities in the city to zero. With roughly 4,000 traffic-related injuries and some 250 fatalities annually, there's no doubt that the city has a very long way to go to meet this goal.

Still, traffic accident statistics show that there's been a "12 percent decrease in the number of fatalities over the past year." Among the initiatives that the city has implemented under Vision Zero is lowering of the city's default speed limit from 30 to 25 MPH. The decision to lower the speed limit was spurred by research which shows that drivers who are traveling at slower speeds have more time to react and slow or stop upon encountering a pedestrian, bicyclist or other vehicle.

While some city residents have welcomed the reduced speed limits and the increased enforcement efforts and use of speed cameras that have come with it, others are skeptical both of the overall utility of these changes as well as the city's motives for implementing them. As with most things, much depends on whether or how an individual has been personally impacted by the changes.

For example, if you're a driver who regularly commutes down one of the speed-enforced streets and it now takes much longer to reach your destination, you may not be happy about the changes. However, if you're a pedestrian who must attempt to cross a dangerous intersection where several pedestrians have been hit and injured or killed, you likely welcome the changes to improve safety.

Source: Citylimits.org, "De Blasio’s Vision Zero Appears to Have Dented Traffic Deaths," Renee Harari, Dec. 15, 2015

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