The beginning of 2022 has seen a nearly 50% increase in traffic fatalities in Queens and NYC when compared to the same period last year. One of the most recent events occurred when the life of a 10-year-old girl was taken while walking along a sidewalk not far from her school. In another case, a young driver seemed to speed up and lose control before slamming into people on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. Unfortunately, these occurrences are becoming more common in New York City streets, but why?
Queens Is a Focal Point
Unfortunately, Queens has led to the rise in fatal crashes this year. Public transportation officials believe that one reason is that due to the pandemic, many people do not feel safe using public transportation. They are driving more, and this means more traffic on the road. The streets are more crowded than they used to be when people took public transportation more often, and this increases the likelihood of accidents.
Another theory that has been proposed is that drivers who continued to go out and drive when lockdowns were in place are more prone to riskier behavior. This is only a theory, but there has also been an increase in crimes involving road rage and violence using a car as a weapon.
It might be noted that 2018 and 2019 were the years with the lowest accident and fatality rates in Queens and the rest of New York City. Deaths began rising during the summer of 2020 and have only continued to increase since then. The pandemic and lockdowns caused a rise in frustration, anger, fear, and stress. There has been a rise in fatal vehicle accidents among younger drivers. Researchers have suggested that there is a link between frustration and putting a little more on the accelerator as a way to vent.
Aside from a rise in traffic accidents, there has also been a notable increase in customer service worker abuse, violent crime, and student misbehavior in school. Several researchers have linked an increase in these trends and a rise in car accidents to the mental health challenges posed by the pandemic. When people are under stress, they pay less attention to what they are doing, which leads to an increase in distracted driving.
What Is Being Done?
Currently, groups are pushing for funding for things like raised crosswalks at particularly dangerous intersections and new “head-start” traffic signals that allow pedestrians to begin crossing the street before cars can move into the intersection. The city also wants to beef up traffic enforcement.
Safety advocate groups have also been pushing for expansion of the speed camera system, lower speed limits, and road redesign of dangerous intersections. A plan is also in place to improve options for bike traffic and increase the number of bike corrals.
Vision Zero is an initiative that has the goal of reducing the number of traffic deaths in NYC to zero. It is a recognition that some deaths and accidents will occur regardless of the best efforts, but the program is designed around the belief that a majority of traffic accidents and deaths are preventable, and none are acceptable.
Vision Zero began in 2014 with expanded enforcement of violations like failing to yield to pedestrians and speeding. It also redesigned streets and launched broad public outreach campaigns to raise awareness and promote safe driving habits. Yet, in 2022, the city has seen one of its most dangerous years since 2018, which was the lowest year for traffic fatalities.
Making the Roads Safe for Everyone
The bottom line is that government policies can only go so far in reducing the number of traffic accidents and deaths. The real control in reducing traffic fatalities is in the hands of every driver when they step behind the wheel. Everyone needs to do their part when it comes to safety on the roads.
Improvements to dangerous intersections, technology, and better infrastructure will go a long way in reducing accidents and deaths, but the real power is in the hands of the drivers. Expanding car-free spaces for bikes and pedestrians will also help to reduce crashes so that there is less need to share the road with cars. This increase in fatalities is a call that urges officials to act quickly to get these new safety measures and campaigns in place to reverse this dangerous trend.
Speak to a Skilled New York Car Accident Lawyer Today
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