City moves to curb wintertime uptick in deadly car crashes

Hoping to tamp down the usual uptick in fatal car crashes as the days grow colder and shorter, the city announced a ticket crackdown and a public awareness campaign Thursday.

Last year, 40% of pedestrians killed in crashes were struck during the last three months of the year.

“The earlier onset of darkness in the fall and the winter is highly correlated to an increase in traffic fatalities and injuries,” NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said Thursday at a press conference announcing the initiative at 1 Police Plaza.

“We’re telling motorists to pay attention and slow down.”

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Cars killed nine pedestrians last year in the eight days that followed the Nov. 1 end of daylight savings time. Five of the crashes took place at night.

Last week, the NYPD issued close to 7,500 tickets for speeding, Chan said. This week, the NYPD has mounted a ticket push on motorists using their cellphones.

On Friday, cops will hand out palm cards asking motorists to slow down at 14 spots where fatal accidents have occurred.

The effort will particularly focus on drivers making left turns, which are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities among pedestrians. A left turn is three times more likely to cause an injury or death than a right turn. The frequency of crashes while turning doubles between November and March, officials said.

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The new campaign is part of Vision Zero, Mayor de Blasio’s signature street safety program, which aims to reduce to zero the number of preventable traffic deaths in the five boroughs by 2024. The city has lowered the speed limit to 25 mph on most roadways, redesigned intersections and major streets, and installed bike lanes that physically separate bicyclists from car traffic.

So far this year, there have been 192 crash fatalities, compared to 178 during the same period last year, a 7.8% increase, officials said.

of the 192 crash deaths this year, 114 of the victims were pedestrians, officials said.

“We're saying to drivers, if you're that much more careful, you really could save a life,” Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

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Amy Cohen, whose 12-year-old son Sammy Eckstein was killed by a speeding driver in October, 2013, applauded the effort, but said every school in the city should be equipped with speeding cameras.

“Since Sammy died three years ago, 1,000 people have been killed and 100,000 people have been injured,” she said.

”We have a public health epidemic and we need to treat it like one.”

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said the state Legislature should toughen laws against reckless motorists.

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“The state law does not provide enough tools to the police and the DA to fight against those irresponsible drivers,” he said. “The stakes could not be higher here.”

The Taxi & Limousine Commission plans to send messages to its 150,000 licensed cabbies as another part of the campaign, TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said.

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