Though it may not have seemed possible, New York City roads have turned even more deadly since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Rates of fatal motor vehicle accidents citywide continue to surpass last year’s totals. According to The New York Times, the number of NYC drivers and passengers killed in vehicle crashes as of June 2020 increased by 22 percent compared to the same time last summer. These tragic numbers skyrocketed even higher in July 2020, with fatalities reaching up to 300 percent higher than in July 2019.
Traffic safety advocates have heavily contributed the ongoing spike in NYC road fatalities to an uptick in reckless drivers on the road. When lockdowns and quarantines emptied the streets of NYC, reckless drivers seized the opportunity to take risks on the roads. But when New Yorkers finally began returning to a sense of normalcy by leaving their homes, the true disasters on the road quickly unfolded.
Studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration found that approximately 94 percent of motor vehicle accidents are caused by human error, with reckless driving habits highlighted as leading contributors. Drivers, passengers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists are all at risk when it comes to encountering reckless drivers in NYC. This article will cover the crucial facts you need to know about this deadly uptick and what you can do to stay safe on the streets.
Pandemic-Related Reckless Driving Trends
There is no doubt that 2020 has been a disappointing and debilitating year for all New Yorkers. Unfortunately, safety advocates have also described 2020 as the bloodiest year on the road since 2016, despite the driving rates dipping drastically during lockdown periods.
According to StreetsBlog, there have been at least 173 road fatalities in NYC as of September 30, 2020. These fatalities included 68 pedestrians, 18 cyclists, 38 motorcyclists, and 49 motor vehicle occupants.
There are several pandemic-related factors to consider that are directly influencing the increase in traffic fatality rates citywide:
- Reckless drivers are still taking advantage of less congested roads by speeding and making aggressive maneuvers;
- Drivers who would not typically drive recklessly are turning into reckless drivers to keep up with the pace of the roads;
- Reckless drivers who became used to empty roads are not staying vigilant to the increase of pedestrians, motorcycles, bicycles, and other vehicles returning to the streets;
- Drivers who speed have less time to avoid road hazards and other occupants;
- The implementation of outdoor dining areas has caused some roads to close or become more narrow, leaving reckless drivers even less time to swerve or stop; and
- The influx of commuters who want to avoid crowded transportation has caused an uptick in New Yorkers driving personal vehicles, biking, or walking around the city.
While NYC officials previously hoped that the rate of speeding and driving recklessness would subside as lockdowns lifted, these deadly trends have appeared to stay. Some boroughs are still experiencing areas of less congested roads that allow drivers to pick up speedeasily. Accidents caused by speeding are often more severe and deadly than when cars are traveling at slower speeds. Now, New Yorkers across all five boroughs are begging for the city to step in before more preventable fatalities arise.
Creating Safe Post-Pandemic Roads in NYC
The possibility of a secondary coronavirus outbreak hitting NYC is not out of the question. According to Gothamist, NYC hospitals have already seen nearly double the amount of COVID hospitalizations since the summer months, with over 551 new cases reported just in the last seven days.
With regard to traffic accidents, a future outbreak could lead to an even higher road fatality rate than we see now. If lockdowns start without implementingnew safety measures, more and more reckless drivers will continue to put others at risk.
Speeding alone has become the most common reckless driving behavior leading to the recent uptick in NYC road fatalities and is subsequently the most deadly. To combat these fatal speeding trends, city officials are attempting to get ahead of the game by implementing lower speed limits on roadways known for leading to fatalities.
On September 1, city officials announced the following speed limit adjustments to nine major roadways across NYC:
- Flatbush Ave from Grand Army Plaza to Empire Boulevard, .8 mile (30 MPH to 25 MPH)
- Shore Parkway Service Road from Bay 8th Street to Plumb 3rd Street, 4.8 miles (30 MPH to 25 MPH)
- Dahlgren Place from 86th Street to 92nd Street, .3 miles (30 MPH to 25 MPH)
- Riverside Drive from 165th Street to 181st Street, .8 mile (30 MPH to 25 MPH)
- Bruckner Blvd from East 135th Street to Pelham Bay Park, 6.5 miles (30 MPH to 25 MPH)
- Webster Ave from East 233 Street to East Gun Hill Road, 1.2 miles (30 MPH to 25 MPH)
- Rockaway Blvd from 150th Ave to 3rd Street (Nassau County border), 2.5 miles (40 MPH to 35 MPH)
- Northern Blvd from 114th Street to Glenwood Street (Nassau County border), 7 miles (30 MPH to 25 MPH)
- Targee Street from West Fingerboard Rd to Broad St, 1.8 miles (30 MPH to 25 MPH)
Other strategies officials have considered implementing to reduce fatal accidents caused by reckless driving include:
- Installing more speed cameras citywide;
- Increasing speed-radar enforcement on highways and high-risk roads;
- Creating more effective signage to announce a change in traffic patterns;
- Dedicating certain streets to be used for foot traffic and outdoor dining only;
- Accelerating more busways and protected bike lanes; and
- Restricting traffic into Manhattan during rush hour to reduce congestion.
How To Stay Safe
Motor vehicle accidents involving reckless drivers are 100 percent preventable. Unfortunately, there will always be dangerous drivers on the road who are only thinking about their own agenda.
Drivers on the streets of NYC can help protect those around them by slowing down, staying alert, and avoiding the use of aggressive maneuvers. Just because there is a stretch of road with no one around does not mean you should speed up. A pedestrian, bicyclist, or another motor vehicle could cross your path at any moment, without any idea of how quickly you are approaching.
Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists should remain extra vigilant when sharing the road and never assume a driver sees you coming. Following all of the traffic laws and staying alert to all other vehicles approaching are the first steps to avoiding an accident.
Lastly, remember that the safest communities are the ones who work together and watch out for one another. If you see someone who is driving dangerously and putting others at risk, call your local authorities. Allowing your streets to become flooded with reckless drivers is a recipe for tragedy to occur. If you see something, say something.
New York City and Long Island Car Accident Attorneys
There is no excuse for dangerous driving behaviors. Driving is a privilege, and it comes with the responsibility of helping to prevent unnecessary fatalities on the road. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another, our team at Siler &Ingber is here to help. With a 98% success rate, we have the experience and the know-how to help our clients achieve a favorable outcome.
Our personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Siler &Ingber, have over 20 years of experience serving clients across New York City and Long Island. We protect your rights by maximizing recovery and securing the financial support our clients need to succeed on their road to recovery. Our winning attorneys know how to navigate through the claim process using past experience as insurance defense attorneys. We are not afraid to fight and are fully prepared to take your case to trial to get a justified verdict over settling for less.