February 13, 2021
New York City Sees Deadliest Year in Car Accidents Since Street Safety Plan Initiated in 2014
By Jonathan Damashek
More than 240 people died in crashes in New York City in 2020. That’s the most since the 2014 Street Safety Plan was introduced. With fewer people on the streets during the pandemic, people are wondering why more people are dying.
COVID-19 Means Fewer Cars, but Not Safer Roadways
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit NYC, the economy shut down for many months. Historically, traffic congestion is relieved when there is an economic downturn, which leads to fewer fatal crashes. However, things were different during 2020. People in New York seemed to flock to the roads, often driving recklessly on vacant highways. Motorcycle riders who hadn’t been on bikes in years – or ever – were on the roadways. In big cities like NYC, drag racing became more popular than ever.
Risky Driving Led To More Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths
Due to the behavior of drivers in and around the city, deaths due to fatal car, truck, and motorcycle accidents increased 76%, according to a New York Times article. In 2019, there were 68 fatal motor vehicle accidents in New York City. In 2020, there were 120.
NYC’s Street Safety Plan Didn’t Reduce Deaths in 2020
In 2014, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a Vision Zero program. The goal was to eliminate all traffic deaths within 10 years by 2024.
The mayor’s office commented that while they knew the death toll would not be linear, they didn’t expect a hike like they saw in 2020. They do not believe 2020 is reflective of what is typical in New York City.
How Did the Pandemic Affect Fatal Crashes in Other Cities?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatality rates for motor vehicle crashes have increased across the nation.
What Is Causing the Increase in Fatal Crashes?
Experts have explained the situation by pointing to trends in driving during the coronavirus crisis. Older people, who are typically more cautious drivers, remained at home more often than younger drivers, who often take more risks.
Drug and alcohol use increased as people used coping mechanisms to deal with pandemic stress. Those people then took to the roads, causing more drunk driving crashes.
Police are handing out more speeding tickets than ever before. In the spring of 2020, California had reported an 87% increase in tickets for speeding more than 100 miles per hour. NYC’s automated cameras also issued double the speeding tickets as normal. Rush hour speeds in Brooklyn and Queens increased by 80%.
Officials in New York said that most fatal crashes in 2020 occurred late at night when cars were going high speeds on highways outside of Manhattan. More than 60% of the motorcycle crashes in NYC involved drivers who did not have a valid motorcycle license.
All of this risky behavior leads to more severe crashes and deadly accidents.
Call Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. After a Fatal Crash
If your loved one dies in a fatal crash, you need to seek legal advice right away. The insurance companies may try to deny the claim by placing blame on your loved one or using other strategies to keep from paying you the money you need to move forward with your life.