Pedestrians comprise more than 25% of the fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes in New York State (including NYC). According to recent data from AAA Northeast, 684 pedestrians were killed or injured by a motorist from 2010 to 2019 across Long Island—400 in Suffolk and 284 in Nassau counties.
Preliminary data from the National Safety Council indicates that even with a 13% drop in the amount of miles driven last year, there was a 24% spike in roadway death—the highest in 96 years. Their March 4 headline says it all: Motor Vehicle Deaths in 2020 Estimated to be Highest in 13 Years, Despite Dramatic Drops in Miles Driven.
While there may be less motorists out and about due to COVID, open roads seem to be tempting motorists to speed. Suffolk Police Deputy Inspector Dave Regina, commanding officer of the Highway Patrol Bureau, acknowledged this issue in a statement to Newsday, saying, “There’s a lot less cars on the road, so our tickets are down. But we are seeing a small percentage that are really pushing the envelope, and those are the people that we’re really trying to target. We’re seeing some really high speeds out there.”
COVID-19 has also led to an increase in Long Island’s general population, and its levels of pedestrian/cyclist activity. Many individuals turned to walking, biking, and other pedestrian activities as a safe escape from the confines of their own homes. Long Island’s general population boost can be attributed to the numerous New York City residents who relocated to more suburban communities in response to the pandemic. A recent article by ABC 7 indicates that this trend is still going strong, as the combination of high demand and low inventory is causing median home selling prices on Long Island to skyrocket.
“More pedestrians coupled with speeding motorists on the roads is a deadly combination of circumstances,” says Cynthia Brown, Executive Director of the New York Coalition for Transportation Safety. “This is why it’s crucial to know and follow the laws of the road, both as a motorist and as a pedestrian— your life just may depend on it.”
Find New York State laws meant to keep us all safe on the Walk Safe Long Island website.
New York State is taking numerous measures to tackle the issue of pedestrian and cyclist safety, all of which culminate in the New York State Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (PSAP). The plan emphasizes making streets safer by implementing the “Three Es—” engineering, enforcement, and education.
Walk Safe Long Island is part of the third “E,” education. Check the News page of our website for information about upcoming installments of our “Staying Safe on Our Streets” Virtual Workshop Series, which aims to educate our local communities about cyclist and pedestrian safety.