New York City streets are busy this time of year as residents and visitors bustle about with the holidays less than a month away. The increase of cars and pedestrians coupled with early sunsets makes it more likely for accidents and injuries to occur. For this reason, Mayor Bill de Blazio is reinforcing the message behind the City’s “Dusk and Darkness” safety initiative, that motorists take extra caution during a time when pedestrian accidents increase significantly.
The Dusk and Darkness campaign kicked off on October 27, as part of The City’s Vision Zero program. Ads in both English and Spanish on television, radio, buses, and billboards reminded the public about the dangers of driving when daylight exits the area much sooner. Early evening crashes where pedestrians are injured jump by 40% in the fall and winter compared to spring and summer. Fatal pedestrian accidents during rush hour in December are triple what they are during the same time in August. The early darkness leads to less visibility and reaction time, especially for drivers making turns. Earlier this week, a 66-year-old woman was critically injured on the Upper East Side when she was pinned under an SUV making a turn onto First Avenue around 7pm. Seniors are the most affected group of those injured in accidents during the darker evening hours.
In the two years since Vision Zero was launched, fatal car accidents have decreased but the number of deadly accidents involving pedestrians has increased. The latest campaign laid out plans to add protected bike lanes to busy roads and increase lighting in 1,000 intersection crosswalks by adding lamps and replacing old bulbs with the brighter LED ones. Speed limits in certain areas have been reduced, and the timing on some traffic lights have been changed so pedestrians have more time to cross. There is a greater police presence during the hours of 4pm and 9pm, as NYPD officers have been patrolling “priority locations” where there is a high risk for pedestrian accidents. In addition, more sobriety checkpoints have been set up to catch drunk drivers, and police have been on the lookout for traffic violations including:
- Failure to Yield
- Red Light Violations
- Distracted Driving
The latest numbers show the Mayor’s plan seems to be having a positive effect. In the month since the Dusk and Darkness program was announced, the number of traffic fatalities has decreased by over 50 percent from the same period last year. The NYPD also issued 50,000 summons for moving violations, the majority for disobeying a traffic signal, making an improper turn and illegal cell phone use. Those riding a bicycle were not excluded from being ticketed as they can exhibit hazardous behavior as well. In an effort to keep the public informed, the NYPD released access to its real-time traffic data. Traffic Stat allows New Yorkers to see where accidents are currently occurring and where trouble spots are over a specific period of time.
While the Mayor, NYPD, and DOT are making their best efforts to cut down on fatal crashes in New York City, accidents can still happen. With the increased danger this time of year, it is essential to be extra careful on the roads. If you have been injured as a result of a pedestrian accident, be sure to have the top lawyers on your side. Call the experienced and successful attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., today.