Coronavirus and Traffic Safety
Updated: Apr 16, 2020
Coronavirus Hot Spots Align with Pedestrian Death/Injury Hot Spots
and Communities of Color
More residents out and about in their local community due to NY Pause order
While hundreds of Long Islanders are taking to walking and/or biking as a way to keep one’s physical and mental health in shape during the social distancing mandate, news outlets are also reporting an uptick in the number of pedestrian deaths and injuries from motor vehicle crashes. Many of these incidents are occurring in communities of color, which is also where a higher prevalence of coronavirus cases are noted.
Unfortunately, this is the sad truth.Long Island remains one of the worst areas in the state for deaths and injuries. People just do not know or do not abide by the New York State vehicle and traffic safety laws meant to keep everyone safe. We have worked for years to educate everyone – walkers, bikers, drivers – about state vehicle and traffic safety laws. The goal is to get people to change their behavior by following the laws.
The data also show that communities on Long Island that have some of the highest pedestrian death and injury rates from motor vehicle crashes are the same communities showing a high incidence of coronavirus cases. And, coincidentally, these are also communities of color – a health disparity to which the governor and local public health authorities have recently pointed. But these disparities always existed.
The NYS Pedestrian Safety Action Plan calls these its focused communities, and traffic/pedestrian safety advocates are placing a greater emphasis on education and outreach in these areas. There are twenty in the state, and eight are on Long Island, including the Town of Hempstead (leads the state) and towns of Huntington and Babylon.
With more people biking and walking in the streets because of the coronavirus crisis, now more than ever walkers, bikers, and drivers need to know and abide by traffic safety rules, say advocates. According to the Safety Action Plan, the number one factor driving the data is inattention/distraction, such as walkers consumed by the information on their phones. And with less cars on the road, car drivers who do remain are often speeding, making illegal right turns, and ignoring other traffic laws.
As the weather improves and more people head outside to walk and bike, we certainly don’t want to see any more tragedy than we are currently experiencing. Individuals can learn more about the laws and other ways to keep themselves safe while walking and biking by visiting Walk Safe LI.
About the New York Coalition for Transportation Safety
The New York Coalition for Transportation Safety is an advocacy organization dedicated to educating the public about laws pertaining to pedestrian and bicycle safety. They work with numerous county and local law enforcement professionals and safety advocate organizations to bring law-based education to all Long Islanders.