New York Daily News: 1 in 5 New Yorkers killed crossing street had right of way, but traffic fatalities less than ever
By John Lauinger
November 23, 2010
They had the light - but that didn't protect nearly one out of five pedestrians killed in traffic accidents, a new city report shows.
About 19% of the 770 pedestrian fatalities from 2005 to 2009 - roughly 150 deaths - were people crossing at an intersection with the walk signal in their favor, the Health Department revealed Monday.
"If you see the ['walk'] light, you are supposed to be safe," said Tony Abreu, whose 39-year-old uncle was killed by a hit-and-run driver in the Bronx on Sunday.
"The city has to do something - maybe put cameras on all the lights."
Graziano Abreu was the latest pedestrian killed in New York, where 335 deaths over the five-year period occurred at intersections controlled by traffic signals.
About 45% of those deaths involved people crossing with the right of way. People crossing against the light made up 38% of those killed; jaywalkers accounted for 15%.
The 770 pedestrians killed in the last five years represents slightly more than half of the 1,467 roadway fatalities in the city during the period.
The numbers revealed city streets are still dangerous, despite a record-low number of deaths last year.
"We see it as an area of preventable injury," said Nancy Clark, assistant commissioner of the Health Department's bureau of environmental disease prevention.
The report drew on statistics compiled by the city Department of Transportation.
It comes as a battle is being waged in the City Council to force the NYPD to make traffic data public the same way major crimes statistics are.
Councilwoman Jessica Lappin (D-Manhattan) submitted a bill to require the NYPD to release weekly precinct-by-precinct figures on crashes involving pedestrians, fatalities and moving violations.
After NYPD objections, Lappin rewrote the bill so DOT would report the data for the NYPD.
The measure was subject to another hearing earlier this month but has yet to be voted on by the Transportation Committee.
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a statement that cops will continue to crack down on drunken driving, speeding and drivers using cell phones.
"Although New York enjoys a good safety record, there is always room for improvement," Kelly said.
Graziano Abreu waited for the light to turn before crossing Jerome Ave. at E. 167th St. with his two nieces Sunday night, his nephew said.
A driver suddenly blew through the red light, striking down Abreu.
The unknown driver, still on the loose last night, "took his life just for walking," Tony Abreu said.