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How is "Vision Zero" working to protect you?

New York City is always bustling. As a pedestrian in our city, you understand the challenges that come with navigating the streets safely. We may pride ourselves on how well we handle the busy traffic, but there are many reckless and dangerous drivers on our roads.

The Vision Zero campaign is currently working to help combat those dangerous drivers, but is it really protecting you?

We are at the halfway point of the Vision Zero timeline

The Operation Vision Zero campaign has been in effect in New York City since 2014. And the goal is to eliminate all pedestrian injuries and fatalities by the year 2024. The campaign aimed to improve safety by:

  • Reducing speed limits 
  • Increasing camera use to catch reckless drivers
  • Improving the patrol and enforcement of traffic violations
  • Increasing penalties for drivers who violate traffic laws

So, how is the campaign working so far, nearly halfway between the start date and the end goal? There are many indications that it is not going well.

Pedestrian deaths are still high, and enforcement is low

The number of pedestrian deaths decreased in 2017, but it jumped right back up again in 2018, increasing by more than 7%.

And many New Yorkers are dissatisfied with how well Vision Zero is working. Law enforcement officers do issue tickets to reckless drivers caught disregarding traffic laws and failing to yield to pedestrians or cyclists. However, more than half of those citations are dismissed in court -- even when drivers caused lasting injury! They are not holding drivers responsible for putting pedestrians in danger. As a consequence, many Vision Zero initiatives are failing to have any impact.

How can pedestrians stay safe?

Vision Zero may not be doing its part to protect pedestrians, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself on city streets:

  1. Always follow traffic signals: Crossing the street at a crosswalk and when the traffic light indicates is critical. However, it is also important to be aware of drivers who might ignore those lights while you cross.
  2. Use sidewalks whenever available: Staying on the sidewalk is one of the best ways to avoid dangers in traffic. But when there are no sidewalks, you should stay as far left as possible and walk facing traffic.
  3. Be alert and defensive: You have the right of way as a pedestrian. But as the old saying goes, the graveyards are filled with people who had the right of way. Many drivers fail to yield to walkers and bikes, and those pedestrians do not fare well in collisions. Be vigilant to keep yourself and your loved ones safe as you walk the streets of New York. Make eye contact with drivers at intersections to verify that they see you. And never look at your cellphone while crossing the street even on a green light.

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