Claimstat: Protecting Pedestrians: The City’s Fleet and Vision Zero

October 1, 2014

New York is a city of pedestrians. With the lowest rate of car ownership in the United States, subway ridership at its highest level since 1950, and tourism continuing to rise, millions of pedestrians are using our streets and sidewalks every day. As a result, they frequently compete for precious space with cars, trucks, and bicycles, often with deadly consequences. As of October 16, 2014, 200 New Yorkers had been killed in auto accidents this year, including 101 pedestrians.1

While most injuries and fatalities on our streets involve private vehicles, our City fleet—the largest in the nation, with over 28,000 vehicles and over 85,000 authorized drivers—is not immune from these tragedies.2

This ClaimStat Alert analyzes pedestrian personal injury claims filed against the City of New York from FY 2007-FY 2014. Some of the key findings are as follows:

  • There were 1,213 pedestrian personal injury claims filed, including 22 pedestrian fatalities.
  • In addition to the human cost associated with these claims, taxpayers pay millions of dollars a year in settlements and judgments for personal injury claims by pedestrians—a total of $88,134,915 over the same time period.
  • While the total number of claims has been flat over the last eight years, the number of claims at certain agencies, including the Departments of Sanitation and Education, were higher in FY 2014 than at any time in the past eight years.
  • The highest number of claims occur in pedestrian-heavy districts, such as Midtown Manhattan. However, no neighborhood in New York City is immune from harm.
  • Claim filers range in age from 0 to 93.

City agencies have a responsibility to make their fleets as safe as possible, for workers and pedestrians alike, in line with the City’s Vision Zero initiative. To its credit, NYC Fleet—the entity within the Department of Citywide Administrative Services tasked with issuing rules governing fleet operations, supporting agencies with vehicle training, and publishing the official New York City Driver Handbook3 —announced earlier this year that it would advance a series of reforms in line with Vision Zero.4 These include completing the implementation of the CRASH collision tracking system to allow the City to analyze crashes across City agencies; installing “CANceiver” technology that will provide agencies with data on vehicle speeds, seat belt use, braking, and other critical information; expanding State Defensive Driver Training programs; and exploring the use of safety devices, such as back-up cameras and rear-wheel side guards.

As the City prepares to institute a 25 m.p.h. speed limit on Nov. 7, the data from this ClaimStat Alert should provide City agencies and NYC Fleet with yet another tool to examine trends and work together to make our streets safer for all users.