As one of America’s oldest and most vibrant cities, New York is known for setting trends. Unfortunately, not all of New York’s “firsts” are necessarily things to be proud of.
In 1899, for example, a 68-year-old pedestrian in New York was struck and killed by an automobile, a mode of transportation which had been invented just 14 years earlier. The fatal pedestrian accident was the first in the United States involving an automobile.
This is according to a brief history of automotive safety featured on the website for State Farm Insurance Company. Thankfully, New York City and New York State have since been trendsetters for improving traffic safety as well.
Many of the safety features and laws that we now take for granted have not been around as long as some might assume. Seat belts were not always a standard feature in vehicles. In 1985, the first law requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts was enacted. It was enacted here in New York.
Fast-forward to modern day, and New York has shown itself to be meeting high standards for traffic safety in terms of the laws it has passed. According to a state-by-state analysis conducted earlier this year:
- NY is one of just 10 states with all three impaired driving laws considered “optimal” (ignition interlock devices, child endangerment and open container laws)
- NY is one of about 25 states with an optimal law regulating booster seats for child passengers
- NY has a text-messaging ban that applies to all drivers, which is considered optimal
- NY is one of about 11 states with at least five of the seven recommended laws governing teen drivers (graduated driver licensing)
To be sure, these accomplishments are ones to be proud of. At the same time, however, New Yorkers understand the dangers we still face as drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. Hopefully, New York’s new Vision Zero campaign will help us achieve low accident and fatality rates consistent with our safety laws.