Tag Archives: traffic fatalities

Mayor de Blasio reveals details of Vision Zero plan to put end to traffic fatalities


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

The success of Vision Zero is in the hands of the city’s pedestrians and drivers, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Last month, de Blasio, together with the NYPD, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Taxi & Limousine Commission, and Department of Citywide Administrative Services, launched an interagency task force to implement his Vision Zero plan to prevent traffic related deaths.

The initiative aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

After the interagency group spent the past month developing new strategies to make city streets safer, de Blasio released his administration’s “Vision Zero Action Plan” Tuesday at P.S. 75 in Manhattan. A student from the school was struck by a vehicle two years ago and still suffers complications from the accident.

“We don’t accept a status quo in this town that leads to so many people losing their lives that we could have saved,” de Blasio said. “As a parent I know that particularly in this crowded dense city, the danger is lurking at all times for our children. That’s why we have to act, we have to act aggressively. We won’t wait to act because we have to protect our children; we have to protect all New Yorkers now.”

Since the beginning of the year more than 20 lives have been lost on city streets and last year there were 286 traffic fatalities compared to 333 homicides in the city, according to de Blasio.

The initiatives within the “Vision Zero Action Plan” include increasing enforcement against speeding, reducing the citywide “default” speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, and expanding the use of speed and red light enforcement cameras.

The plan will continue to develop borough-specific street safety plans, redesigning 50 locations each year, expand neighborhood “slow zones,” and enforce stiffer penalties on taxi and livery operators who drive dangerously. The interagency group is expected to continue overseeing and coordinating all the changes.

“A life lost is a life lost – and it is our job to protect New Yorkers, whether it is from violent crime or from a fatal collision on our streets,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said. “We are going to use every tool we have – and push to get the additional tools we need – to prevent the needless loss of life.”

Bratton also said the NYPD would focus efforts on speeding and failure to yield violations, which make up 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the city.

“But it’s about much more than speed bumps and issuing violations, it’s about all of us taking more responsibilities,” de Blasio said. “Our lives are literally in each other’s hands, our children’s lives are in each other’s hands. Today we begin the work to living up to that responsibility.”

 

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De Blasio takes on traffic deaths with ‘Vision Zero’ initiative


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

With 11 people, including seven pedestrians, killed in traffic accidents in just the first two weeks of the New Year, Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for a stop to what he calls an epidemic.

De Blasio and his administration is launching an interagency working group, together with the NYPD, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Taxi & Limousine Commission, to implement a “Vision Zero” plan and make sure another life is not lost.

The mayor’s “Vision Zero” initiative aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

“Our top responsibility is protecting the health and safety of our people,” said de Blasio. “From tougher enforcement to more safely-designed streets and stronger laws, we’ll confront this problem from every side – and it starts today.”

De Blasio gathered with local officials, family members of victims of traffic fatalities and representative from the city agencies Wednesday to announce the working group at P.S. 152 in Woodside, just less than a block from where third-grader Noshat Nahian was fatally struck by a tractor trailer in December.

The working group will come together to implement the mayor’s plan by developing a report,  due to the mayor by Feb. 15 and released publicly, that will serve as a blueprint for the mayor’s “Vision Zero” plan for safer streets through the city.

The report is expected to have “concrete plans” to dedicate sufficient number of NYPD resources and personnel to prevent dangerous actions such as speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians; annually improve close to 50 dangerous corridors and intersections to “discourage dangerous driving;” greatly expand the amount of slow zones across the city; and pursue a traffic safety legislative agenda in order for the city to position red light and speed enforcement cameras based on safety needs.

“This will be a top-to-bottom effort to take on dangerous streets and dangerous driving,” said de Blasio. “We aren’t going to wait and lose a son, a daughter, a parent or a grandparent in another senseless and painful tragedy.”

De Blasio also said that as of Thursday, Jan. 16, speed cameras which have been installed on city streets will begin issuing tickets to enforce speed limits.

The NYPD will also be implementing additional and more severe enforcement against traffic violations, according to de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Since taking office Bratton has increased Highway Division personnel by 10 percent and has a goal to increase the staff by 50 percent.

 

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DOT, NYPD announce nighttime closure of Queensboro Bridge outer roadway lane to reduce speeding


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

A few weeks following the fatal accident of an off-duty police officer off the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and NYPD have implemented a new change looking to increase safety for drivers and pedestrians.

The DOT and NYPD announced on Tuesday the single lane of the Queens-bound outer roadway of the Queensboro Bridge will be closed each day to vehicular traffic from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., starting Monday, Dec. 30.

The nighttime closure hopes to reduce the possibility for speeding and any other dangerous driving at night when the lane is not being used. All traffic capacity on Queens-bound inner and upper roadway lanes will not be affected.

“This upgrade to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge is just the latest step we’ve taken to keep the more than 180,000 daily drivers crossing safely on one of the city’s most iconic bridges,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The daily closure and reopening of the outer roadway lane will be organized by NYPD traffic officers who are already stationed at the bridge to manage the weekday reversal of the two upper roadway Queens-bound lanes.

The closure comes after the DOT conducted a review of current safety measures, traffic volumes and travel speed following the death of 10-year NYPD veteran Elisa Toro, 36,  on December 10.

Toro was heading off the bridge’s exit ramp around 1:50 a.m. when she struck a guardrail, then a cement barrier, said police. The car then flipped onto its passenger side, hitting a vacant storefront on Queens Plaza South at Crescent Street  in Long Island City. Toro, a Bronx resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured in the accident, said police.

“I applaud the DOT for finally giving this dangerous stretch of road the attention it deserves,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris who asked the DOT to improve traffic safety in the area and redesign the bridge’s exit ramp, after a series of accidents in 2011. “Hopefully, the nighttime closure of the Queens-bound outer roadway will provide the time for a proper evaluation of the street design coming off the Queensboro Bridge exit ramp so we can eventually solve this problem once and for all.”

According to the DOT, the outer-roadway closure joins other traffic measures installed by the Queens Plaza South exit ramp since 2011. The traffic measures include three 20 mph messages, “shark teeth” markings on the road, 14 yellow and 12 white 36”-by-8” aluminum-backed reflectors, four sets of rumble strips warning drivers they are approaching a reduced speed zone, and much more. Throughout the day, the agency plans to continue monitoring traffic volumes, safety measures and driving conditions on the bridge. 

 

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Pols call for law change after driver with suspended license fatally strikes Woodside boy


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Local elected officials are calling for a change in the law to prevent another child, like 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, from losing their life.

Noshat was crossing the street with his 11-year-old sister on the way to school at P.S. 152 in Woodside around 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 when a tractor trailer traveling southbound on 61st Street made a left turn onto Northern Boulevard, striking him with its rear tires, police said. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The driver, Mauricio Osorio-Palominos, 51, of Newark, N.J., who remained on the scene of the accident, has been charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of motor vehicle and operating vehicle in violation of safety rules, police said.

Osorio-Palominos was driving with a suspended license with multiple violations on his record during the accident, according to State Senator Michael Gianaris.

In response, Gianaris gathered with local officials, residents and advocacy groups at the site of the accident Monday to introduce legislation that would make it a felony if drivers with suspended licenses either seriously injure or kill someone with their vehicle. Under current law, a driver like Osorio-Palominos could be charged with a misdemeanor.

“The law needs to get tougher,” said Gianaris. “Those who have suspended licenses are twice as likely to kill somebody or injure somebody, or twice as likely to have major accidents, the law has to catch up with the data, we just need to get these people off the streets.”

Gianaris has also proposed the immediate impoundment of a vehicle’s license plate if it were being operated by someone with a suspended license.

The new bill will be co-sponsored by Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Jose Peralta and also supported by Assemblymember Michael Den Dekker, Congressmember Joseph Crowley and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

“I have an 8-year-old son and it could have been my child, it could have been my son that was hit that Friday morning,” said Peralta. “And we need to send a loud message not only to the city but to anyone who does this, who rides without a license, that this is not going to be acceptable.”

Advocate groups like Transportation Alternatives, Make Queens Safer and Woodside on the Move, are also looking to implement other safety measures like crossing guards, stalled green lights and much more.

“None of this should of happen, all of this could have been prevented,” said Van Bramer. “This school has been asking for a crossing guard at this location for months. [It’s] absolutely disgraceful that the administration did not provide the crossing guard when it was requested, when it was clearly needed. Anybody who has been on this street for more than five minutes knows that this requires a crossing guard.”

Advocacy group Make Queens Safer organized a traffic safety memorial and vigil at 61st Street and Northern Boulevard Sunday where Noshat’s family and hundreds of residents gathered to remember the 8-year-old and other victims of traffic fatalities.

 

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Pols call for redesign of Queensboro Bridge exit ramp after deadly accident


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Senator Michael Gianaris' Office

After an off-duty NYPD officer was killed when her car smashed into an exit ramp off the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, local elected officials are calling for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to put an end to deadly accidents.

Elisa Toro, 36, a 10-year NYPD veteran who was assigned to Manhattan’s 17th Precinct, was heading off the bridge’s exit ramp around 1:50 a.m. on Tuesday when she struck a guardrail, then a cement barrier, said police. The car then flipped onto its passenger side, hitting a vacant storefront on Queens Plaza South at Crescent Street.

Toro, a Bronx resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured in the accident, said police. The investigation is ongoing.

Following a series of accidents at the same site in 2011, State Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan sent a letter to the DOT demanding the agency redesign the ramp and continue to improve temporary safety measures. These procedures would include higher barriers and other measures that could help lessen the danger for pedestrians and storefront, until the exit ramp is redesigned.

“No one else should have to die before the city realizes that this exit ramp is fundamentally unsafe,” said Gianaris. “We stood here two years ago asking for a complete redesign of the off ramp, and instead we got new signs and a couple barriers. The time for half measures is gone. We need a safer exit ramp before another tragedy occurs.”

Gianaris asked the DOT to improve traffic safety in the area and redesign the bridge’s exit ramp, after a series of accidents in 2011. But a redesign of the exit ramp was “ignored” and only “additional signage and minimal barriers” were added, according to Gianaris. The barrier, which was destroyed in a 2011 crash, was never replaced, he said, and could have protected the storefront in Tuesday’s accident.

“The east bound off ramp of the Queensboro Bridge is clearly a death trap,” said Van Bramer. “Cars are still flying off this bridge, into store fronts, and putting the lives of pedestrians and motorists in jeopardy. It is clear that the Department of Transportation has not done enough.”

 

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Jackson Heights, Corona community marches for safer streets after traffic deaths


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

It was the final straw, and now the Jackson Heights and Corona communities are saying no more.

Family members of traffic accident victims, local elected officials and community members gathered Tuesday night to set off the inaugural action known as “Three Children Too Many.”

The group marched down Northern Boulevard, then 82nd Street, stopping to make statements about traffic control and give performances along the way. They then gathered on 79th Street and 37th Avenue to rally and remember young local lives that were cut short.

“You cope with this kind of thing and you feel terrible, sad, angry, but then there’s a tipping point,” said Laura Newman, one of the organizers of the march and resident of Jackson Heights. “We actually have to make it stop.”

Just a month before three-year-old Olvin Jahir Figueroa was fatally struck by an alleged drunk driver, Jackson Heights resident Luis Bravo, 19, lost his life in a hit-and-run in Woodside. In December of last year, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was killed as he tried to cross the street heading to school on Northern Boulevard.

In April Councilmember Daniel Dromm led the push to bring more slow zones to Jackson Heights, focusing on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.

“Three Children Too Many” calls on mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to choose a police commissioner who will make sure law enforcement for vehicular crimes is strongly enforced and demands more traffic calming zones, continued traffic safety education for local children, and action facilitators to lead the community towards greater safety.

“Safety is (Department of Transportation) DOT’s top priority and the agency participated in [Tuesday’s] event to highlight our shared goal of making streets safer for everyone using them,” said DOT spokesperson Nicole Garcia. “We also have been in touch with the local community, including the march’s organizers and elected officials to get feedback, share education materials and discuss ways to enhance safety at this intersection and the surrounding area.”

The agency is also looking at the signal timing at Northern and Junction Boulevards to determine if adjustments can be made, said Garcia.

Michelle L. Kaucic, community coordinator of the DOT’s Safety Education and Outreach, said the community needs to continue advocating for change and must also spread the word of not drinking and driving. The community and DOT need to work together to make the streets safe as possible, said Kaucic.

At the end of the march, participants held a moment of silence and a candlelight vigil honoring Olvin, Luis, Miguel and other victims, as family members spoke.

“Safe streets are not a luxury, it’s what we deserve,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who lost two of her best friends 20 years ago to a fatal traffic accident involving a drunk driver. “After losing several of our mothers, fathers, children and friends to fatal traffic collisions, we simply cannot tolerate to lose one more.”

 

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NYPD announces results of three-day anti-speeding enforcement initiative


| editorial@queenscourier.com

FILE PHOT

BY JOHANN HAMILTON

A three-day enforcement initiative across New York City resulted in more than 700 summonses citywide.

The NYPD announced the results of a speed enforcement initiative conducted last weekend, during which 736 summonses were issued to motorists. The initiative, which began on Friday, October 11, was instituted in the hopes of limiting speeding and traffic infractions that could result in serious injuries or fatalities.

Of the summonses, 266 were issued in Queens, 213 in the Bronx, 113 in Brooklyn, 97 in Manhattan and 47 in State Island.

Despite the establishment of 14 neighborhood “slow zones,” with 15 more pending, speeding remains the leading contributor of collisions worldwide. However, traffic fatalities are down 30 percent over the past decade.

In addition to these slow zones, 910 speed bumps have been installed, and anti-speed zones near 146 have been implemented over the past six years. Other initiatives to limit speeding include the city’s first speed cameras, which were installed earlier this fall.

It is illegal to exceed 50 miles per hour in New York City, and the NYPD encourages safe driving and reminds the public to obey the speed limit, which is 30 miles per hour on local streets in New York City, unless otherwise specified.

Speeding fines can range between $90 and $600, and drivers can earn from 3 to 11 penalty points for speeding infractions.

 

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Fund to help family of toddler killed by alleged drunk driver in Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Councilmember Julissa Ferreras

A family and community are left mourning three-year-old Olvin Jahir Figueroa after he was fatally struck by an alleged drunk driver while crossing a Jackson Heights street with his mother.

According to police, on October 11 at approximately 9:50 p.m. the toddler was crossing the corner of Junction Boulevard and Northern Boulevard with his mother after visiting a nearby market, when a white 2011 Acura struck him. The 35-year-old driver then stopped and drove the toddler and his mother to New York Hospital Queens in Flushing where the toddler was pronounced dead.

The driver, Gilbert Echeverria, was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated, police said.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras gathered with family, residents and members of the local church on Monday, October 14 to hold a candle light prayer vigil for Olvin.

“As a new mother with a baby boy of my own, I know what it is like to have so many hopes and dreams for your children,” said Ferreras. “Olvin’s parents will never get to see him attend his first day of school or see him graduate. He had his whole life ahead of him.”

The councilmember lost two of her best friends close to 20 years ago to a fatal traffic accident also involving a drunk driver at the same intersection.

Ferreras has set up a donation fund at TD Bank to help Olvin’s family with burial expenses. The account number is 4283969885. Checks should be made payable to the “Olvin Jahir Figueroa Burial Fund.”

 

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Driver charged after toddler struck, killed in Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

A two-year-old boy is dead after being hit by an alleged drunk driver while crossing a Jackson Heights street with his mother.

According to police, on Friday night at approximately 9:50 p.m. Jaied Gigueroa was crossing the corner of Junction Boulevard and Northern Boulevard with his mother when a white 2011 Acura moving northbound on Junction Boulevard struck him. The 35-year-old driver then stopped and drove the toddler and his mother to New York Hospital Queens in Flushing where Jaied was pronounced dead.

The driver, Gilbert Echeverria, was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated, police said. 

 

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Starting the New Year with good news for New York City


| editorial@queenscourier.com

By Mayor Michael Bloomberg

New York is entering the new year riding a crest of good news. On average, we’re living longer and healthier lives than ever. We’re also the safest big city in the nation, and safer from crime, fire and traffic fatalities than at any time in modern memory. And we have good reasons to hope that these trends will continue in 2012.

Let’s start with life expectancy. Babies born in New York City in 2009 can now expect to live an average of 80.6 years. According to the city’s Department of Health, that’s almost three years longer than newborn life expectancy was in the year 2000; it’s also nearly two-and-a-half years longer than the comparable national average. Life expectancy for adults is up as well; for 40 year olds, it now averages 82 years. That’s nearly two years longer than life expectancy for 40 year olds nationwide. Our lifespan gains are also greater than counties with other major cities across the nation.

There are two big conclusions to draw from this hopeful news. The first is that many of the aggressive steps we’ve taken to improve public health – such as encouraging New Yorkers to quit smoking and get tested and treated for HIV – are big factors in adding years to our lives. And the second thing to remember is that these life expectancy figures are averages: If you carry out those New Year’s resolutions to watch your weight, exercise and stop smoking, the chances are that you can live even longer.

There’s lots of good news on the public safety front, too; in fact, the NYPD and FDNY have just given New Yorkers the safest decade on record. The number of murders in our city last year was the third-lowest ever. It was also the 10th consecutive year that we’ve recorded fewer than 600 murders. While even one murder is one too many, keep in mind that before 2002, we hadn’t seen as few as 600 murders a year since the early 1960s. And during the past 10 years, we’ve decreased crime overall more than 34 percent.

We’ve also just closed out 10 years with an average of 88 fire deaths per year; that’s by far the safest decade since the FDNY started keeping records. Over those 10 years, we’ve made the average response time to fires 20 seconds faster than it was during the previous decade. And during 2011, ambulances cut their average response time to life-threatening emergencies to six minutes, 31 seconds – a new record low.

We’ve also made our streets safer than ever. Thanks to better engineering, education and enforcement, we ended 2011 on track to having the fewest traffic fatalities on record. Over the past 10 years, we’ve cut traffic deaths in the five boroughs by 40 percent. That means that today, our rate of traffic fatalities is roughly two-thirds lower than the national rate.