For a long time, the New York Police Department has published crime statistics for the City of New York. The statistics were divided by type of crime, such as murder, rape, robbery, or burglary, and grouped into charts showing the frequency of crime within the entire City of New York, or within each borough or precinct. Information from past years, up to eighteen years ago, was also available for comparison. This information has been available for viewing online by the public anytime.
Now, due to a new city law, the NYPD must publish motor vehicle statistics in a similar manner. The information, although required to be submitted four months ago, was finally published on the website last Tuesday night here. There is an entry for each occasion the police responded to a motor vehicle accident. There is a collective citywide chart and there are separate charts categorizing the statistics by borough. The borough charts are further divided by precinct and then by intersection. There is a searchable map to ascertain which precinct you are inquiring about, but running a text search (control + F on a PC) may be a more efficient way of gathering information. Within the borough charts, each intersection's entry specifies the number of accidents, number of persons involved, number of accidents with injuries, type of vehicles involved, contributing factors, and whether those who were injured or killed were motorists, passengers, cyclists, or pedestrians.
Citywide, there were 16,784 motor vehicle accidents during the month of August, and 3,437 injuries or fatalities. Brooklyn was the borough with the most injury or fatality involved motor vehicle accidents in August, followed by Queens, then Manhattan, Bronx, and Staten Island. Brooklyn had a total of 1,569 injury or fatality involved motor vehicle accidents in August while Staten Island had only 278. Brooklyn and Queens were tied for the greatest number of fatalities (5), while Manhattan was in the middle (3), and Bronx and Staten Island were tied for the least number of fatalities (1). A number of intersections had more than 10 accidents in August. Here is the breakdown by borough:
- In Manhattan, there were 10 or more accidents at 7 intersections: Bowery and Canal Street (10 accidents, 1 accident with injuries), Canal Street and Lafayette Street (13 accidents, 1 accident with injuries), Delancey Street and Essex Street (13 accidents, 2 accidents with injuries), Delancey Street and Norfolk Street (10 accidents, 4 accidents with injuries), 3rd Avenue and East 37th Street (11 accidents, 1 accident with injuries), 3rd Avenue and East 57th Street (11 accidents, 2 accidents with injuries), Amsterdam Avenue and West 125th Street (13 accidents, 4 accidents with injuries).
- In Bronx, there were 10 or more accidents at 1 intersection: Bruckner Boulevard and East 138th Street (12 accidents, 4 accidents with injuries).
- In Brooklyn, there were 10 or more accidents at 2 intersections: Flatbush Avenue and Grand Army Plaza (14 accidents, 3 accidents with injuries), Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue (10 accidents, 1 accident with injuries).
- In Queens, there were 10 or more accidents at 2 intersections: College Point Boulevard and Horace Harding Expressway (12 accidents, 0 accidents with injuries), 94th Street and Ditmars Boulevard (10 accidents, 1 accident with injuries).
- In Staten Island, there were 10 or more accidents at 0 intersections.
Proponents of the publication of these statistics say it creates transparency which enables concerned citizens to make a case to the city for changes to a particular intersection. Previously, citizens were relegated to utilizing anecdotal evidence to make their case. But these data are not what the city relies upon to change its streets. It is the Department of Transportation's analysis of police reports, including the number of accidents and their severity, which historically contributed to change.
As discussed in the Wall Street Journal, "The first batch of data covers only August. And it doesn't include information about traffic volume, so it's impossible to know whether a high number of accidents in any one month or near any one corner is due to a poorly designed street or an uptick in the number of cars passing through". Another concern that comes to mind is that police do not always list injuries when there were injuries. Of course, these statistics do not account for the many accidents and injuries for which no one notifies the police.
Notably, the majority of motor vehicle accidents, in every borough of the city, was cited by the police to be caused by driver inattention/distraction. The next most frequently cited contributing factor was following too closely, then failure to yield right-of-way, backing unsafely, improper passing/lane usage, and unsafe lane change. The possible contributing factors in injury and fatal accidents, other than driver inattention/distraction, are as follows: aggressive driving/road rage, alcohol involvement, backing unsafely, cell phone (hand-held), cell phone (hands free), driver inexperience, drugs (illegal), err/confusn ped/bike/other ped, failure to keep right, failure to yield right-of-way, fatigued/drowsy, fell asleep, following too closely, illness, lost consciousness, other electronic device, other uninvolved vehicle, outside car distraction, passing or lane usage improper, physical disability, prescription medication, traffic control disregarded, turning improperly, unsafe lane changing, and unsafe speed.
By Kathleen Beatty