According to a 50 page study conducted by the New York City Department of Transportation and released by the Bloomberg administration, the streets of NYC are safer for pedestrians than one might think. Despite findings that the elderly and motorcyclists are most likely to be involved in an accident that is fatal or causes serious injury, NYC overall has taken some enormously positive steps toward streets that are much safer than they have been since the city began gathering traffic data in 1910.

This study examined over 7,000 traffic accidents throughout the five boroughs between the years 2002-2006. The accidents in the study only included those which caused death or serious injury to a pedestrian. Here are some main points to take from the study:

  • Elderly New Yorkers over the age of 65 make up only about 12% of the city’s population, but account for 38% of the pedestrian deaths included in the study. Elderly Asian New Yorkers seem to especially be at risk for pedestrian-related deaths (their fatality rate is twice that of other NYC residents over the age of 65).
  • On a national level, males account for about two-thirds of pedestrian deaths; in New York City, males account for about 58% of pedestrian deaths. Thus, males are more at risk for being the victim in a fatal traffic accident involving pedestrians. In addition, male drivers in their 40s were identified as having the highest chance (among all male age groups) of being involved in a serious traffic accident, about 5 accidents per 100,000 residents.
  • The chance of a motorcyclist dying in a traffic accident in NYC is 18 times greater than that of a motorist driving an enclosed vehicle.
  • Surprisingly, alcohol was only a factor in 8% of the fatal accidents included in the study, much less than the national average of 13%! However, alcohol-related accidents were twice as likely to result in death as other types of accidents.

Even though this study focused on New York City, we can learn from it here in Denver as well. Motorcyclists, drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists are involved in serious crashes everyday throughout Denver, but we can educate ourselves and minimize these crashes just as New Yorkers have done. Here are some suggestions we as Denver citizens can easily adopt to reduce traffic accidents:

  • Don’t text and drive – and don’t talk on a handheld cell phone while driving period. It has been shown that cell phone use while driving is more dangerous than drunk driving! Choose to eliminate cell phone use while driving and the road will be a much safer place.
  • Get children involved in school programs that teach them how to navigate roads safely. The younger we can teach them road safety the better it will be. Adults should be educated on this too – especially those who are frequent pedestrians or users of public transit.
  • Call your representative and ask for a similar study to be done in our community.