New York City’s traffic fatalities this year dropped to a record low 237, due to re-engineered roads and intersections, better enforcement and safety education, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said.
The city beat its previous low of 258 in 2009. In 2001, the year before Mayor Michael Bloomberg assumed office, 393 died, according to a department new release.
The mayor and Sadik-Khan released the numbers at a Brooklyn news conference during a week when Bloomberg reported city residents’ life expectancy has reached 80.6 years for a baby born in 2009, and its projected homicide tally -- slightly more than 500 -- may be the third-lowest since record-keeping began in 1963.
“This will be the city’s safest traffic year in the more than 100 years since records were kept,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “It’s another reason New Yorkers are living longer and another reason our city is safer than ever before.”
Sadik-Khan said changes to the cityscape protected people.
“The reduction in traffic deaths as a result of our safety engineering means nearly 300 New Yorkers are alive today who would not have been if we had simply sustained the fatality rate of five years ago,” she said in a prepared statement.
The city’s trend toward fewer road fatalities is consistent with the U.S. rate, which in 2010 declined 2.7 percent to 32,885, the lowest since 1949, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The first three months of this year showed continued decreases, the agency’s website said.
“Promoting strong traffic safety laws coupled with high-visibility enforcement, rigorous vehicle safety programs, public awareness campaigns, and improvements in roadway design” are the reasons for the national reduction, David Strickland, the agency’s administrator, said in an e-mail.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.