Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative—aimed at improving street safety and decreasing traffic crashes—has proven successful in decreasing pedestrian fatalities, but with the city’s authority to use speed and red light cameras set to expire following inaction from state lawmakers, officials fear that progress on reducing fatalities may be under threat.
On Monday, Mayor de Blasio announced that the first six months of 2018 closed out with the fewest traffic fatalities ever measured in a six-month period in New York City. As of June 30, the city had recorded 81 traffic fatalities, which is only the second time that fewer than 100 fatalities were recorded in a six-month period. The city’s previous record-low for traffic fatalities was in the first half of 2017, when 95 were recorded. Declines have been the largest in Manhattan (9 in 2018 compared to 21 in 2017) and in the Bronx (13 in 2018 from 22 in 2017).
“No loss of life on our streets is acceptable,” said Mayor de Blasio in a press statement. “Under Vision Zero, we have made enormous strides towards safer streets for all, with traffic fatalities declining for the past four-and-a-half years.”
But while fatalities are down, there have been several high-profile incidents, like the fatal Park Slope car crash that killed two children on March 5 after the driver sped through a red light, that has increased the demand for safer streets. Yet due to the Senate and Assembly’s failure to reach an agreement on a way to extend the existing state-authorized traffic camera program, the loss of speed cams could result in a spike in speeding violations, and potentially worse.
“The state Senate’s failure to act on speed cams puts [Vision Zero’s] progress, and the lives of school children, at risk,” said de Blasio. “They must act now—lives are at stake.”
Speed cams are set to expire on July 25.