More children were killed in traffic collisions in 2022 than any year since the city adopted Vision Zero as a principle, according to a new report from safe streets advocacy organization Transportation Alternatives.
16 children were killed on city streets in traffic crashes last year, more than any year since 2014, the year Vision Zero — the idea that policymaking should aim to entirely eliminate traffic deaths on city streets — was adopted by the administration of former Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The deceased include 5-year-old Yaakov Farhi, who was struck by a BMW driver in February outside his Midwood home, succumbing to his injuries three months later. Another 5-year-old boy, Jonathan Martinez, died in September after being struck by a pickup truck driver while crossing the street in East Elmhurst; the driver, who fled the scene, was charged with hit-and-run and driving without a license. Up in the Bronx, 16-year-old Alisa Kolenovic was killed in May after being struck by a box truck in Morris Park; the driver was arrested and charged with failure to yield.
“All New Yorkers should be able to walk on the sidewalk, ride a bike, wait for the bus, and cross the street without fearing for their lives,” said Leeanna Alois, a member of Families for Safe Streets, in a statement. “Instead, traffic violence continues to rob New Yorkers of their children, parents, siblings, friends, and loved ones.”
Overall, 255 people lost their lives on the city’s streets last year, according to the report, which analyzed data from the city’s Department of Transportation. That includes 118 pedestrians and 17 cyclists. The total is down from the 273 killed in 2021 — a Vision Zero record — but a 24% increase from a low of 206 seen in 2018. Elected officials say the numbers should propel the city into action to stop the carnage.
“Every traffic death is preventable, and it’s heartbreaking and infuriating that even more New Yorkers are being killed by cars than before the pandemic,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “It’s shameful that nine years after Vision Zero was launched, we’re losing record numbers of children to traffic violence. We must make choices and changes today to save lives in the future, from drivers to pedestrians to our neighbors who rely on mobility devices.”
“All New Yorkers deserve to live in communities with safe streets,” said City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “The increase in traffic fatalities since 2018 is alarming, particularly the rise in children killed by traffic violence. Behind every crash is a family and community impacted by preventable tragedies, and it is critical that we advance equitable policies and investments that will result in safer streets for all.”
The Council plans to hold an oversight hearing on Vision Zero next month, a spokesperson said, though it has not yet been put on the public schedule.
The NYPD recorded 79 hit-and-run incidents in 2022, below the 93 seen in 2021 but otherwise the highest number since the department started publishing statistics on leaving the scene of collisions in 2016. Analyzing the data, Transportation Alternatives found that just four hit-and-runs were solved by police in 2022. What’s more, the data shows glaring racial disparities, the nonprofit found: since 2017, 55% of hit-and-runs in majority-white precincts were solved or saw suspected arrested, but that stat was only 36% in precincts with majority non-white populations.
The city’s deadliest City Council district in 2022 was District 8, straddling two boroughs in East Harlem and the South Bronx, with 6.2 fatal crashes per 100,000 residents, TransAlt found. The deadliest over an eight-year period, between 2014 and 2022, was District 28, represented by Speaker Adams.
The nonprofit is urging the city to beef up its work on implementing the city’s streets plan, by expediting the construction of bus lanes and protected bike lanes. They also suggest the Adams administration scale up its Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program, where the city can impound the vehicles of the road’s most reckless drivers if they fail to take an optional road safety course.
Asked for comment, DOT referred amNewYork Metro to a press release from earlier this month, where Mayor Eric Adams touted the year-over-year decline in traffic deaths between 2021-22. Hizzoner highlighted the 6.3% decrease in pedestrian deaths between 2021 and 2022, the fact that cyclist deaths have declined for three years in a row, and that traffic deaths remain well below pre-Vision Zero levels.
“Across the board, the numbers are clear: New York City is getting safer,” the mayor said on Jan. 6. “While traffic fatalities rise across the country, we are taking major actions like improving 1,400 intersections and turning on speed cameras 24/7 — making our streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. Even as we see significant progress, our North Star remains Vision Zero, and we will continue working towards a day when no one dies from traffic violence in New York City.”
Pedestrian deaths in 2022 were 25% higher than a low of 94 in 2020, though that may be explained by COVID-19 keeping people hunched in their homes for several months.
Correction: this story has been amended to note Council District 8 saw 6.2 fatal crashes per 100,000 residents, not per 1,000 as originally reported. It also has been amended to more accurately describe the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program.