Car Accident Statistics in New York [New]

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Auto Accidents statistics for New York City, in the past, were not easily obtained.

Traditionally, you would need to look through local police department reports and spreadsheets to find New York-specific crash statistics. However, in May of 2014, New York City’s OpenData portal started offering easy access to crash information every day – including coordinates of those crashes.

Now that the information is accessible, the next step is to explore these statistics and gain a thorough understanding of why car accidents occur in each of the five boroughs, where they are more common, and how they can be stopped.

As a resident of New York City, you are probably aware of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, which is a rather ambitious goal of reaching zero traffic fatalities by 2024. While reviewing these statistics, we can also explore the plausibility of this goal, and whether 2024 is even possible.

A Quick Breakdown of the Numbers – How Many Car Crashes Occur in Each of the NYC's Boroughs?

While reviewing critical data from the New York City Police Department, we have compiled data that includes the types of crashes, what caused them, vehicles involved, the number of injuries and fatalities, and where they typically happen in New York City.

When analyzing March 2014 to April 2015, calculating them based on the five boroughs, you can see the following trends:

  • Queens: Saw a total number of 65,896 collisions, which accounted for 29.5 percent of the total number of accidents in NYC. Out of those accidents, 24.1 percent resulted in injuries.
  • Brooklyn: Saw a total number of 62,455 collisions, which accounted for 28 percent of the total number of accidents in NYC. Out of those accidents, 28.2 percent resulted in injuries.
  • Manhattan: Saw a total number of 50,401 collisions, which accounted for 22.6 percent of the total accidents in NYC. Out of those accidents, 16.9 percent resulted in injuries.
  • Bronx: Saw a total number of 31,372 collisions, which accounted for 14.1 percent of the total number of accidents in NYC. Out of those accidents, 29.2 percent resulted in injuries.
  • Staten Island: Saw a total number of 13,017 collisions, which accounted for 5.8 percent of the total number of accidents in NYC. Out of those accidents, 16.9 percent resulted in injuries.

In total, from March 2014 to April 2015, NYC saw 223,141 accidents, and 24.3 percent resulted in injuries – almost a quarter of auto accidents.

Out of the five boroughs, there were more collisions in Manhattan than the rest for its size, but when it comes to percentages, Queens had the highest number of accidents compared to the five boroughs.

Injuries were lower in Manhattan as well.

A Spike in Auto Accidents from February to March

From February to March 2015, there was a significant increase in accidents in Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. However, January 2015 saw the lowest number of car accidents for Manhattan, dropping from 3,928 to 3,210. Queens and Brooklyn also experienced decreases in spring 2015, specifically March to April, going from 5,289 to 4,694 for Queens and 5,171 to 4,678 for Brooklyn.

Auto Accidents by Days of the Week

To better understand how these car accidents play out, it is best to look at just one week’s worth of data.

From May 1st to May 7th, 2015, New York City saw:

  • Friday: A total of 633 accidents, 145 injuries, and no deaths.
  • Saturday: A total of 531 accidents, 128 injuries, and no deaths.
  • Sunday: A total number of 548 accidents, 151 injuries, and no deaths.
  • Monday: A total number of 629 accidents, 155 injuries, and one death.
  • Tuesday: A total number of 627 accidents, 135 injuries, and no deaths.
  • Wednesday: A total number of 555 accidents, 103 injuries, and one death.
  • Thursday: A total number of 665 accidents, 148 injuries, and no deaths.

Naturally, you can expect the city to increase traffic volume on specific days, which also coordinates with the increase in traffic accidents.

What Role Does Time of the Day Play these Auto Collisions?

The time of day, most certainly plays a role in auto accidents. Forbes, after reviewing the latest statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that fatal accidents are more likely to happen at night, while the fewest number of deadly accidents occurs between 4:00 am and 5:00 am. Also, mid-week days have lower fatalities, such as Tuesday and Wednesday.

One study in 2001 found that more fatal accidents occurred just after Daylight Savings than any other time of the year; further proving accident spikes can correlate with the time of the day.

When looking at the numbers for NYC, it is clear that there is a steady increase from 7:00 am to a spike at 10:30 am. However, accidents hit their highest between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm. Accidents decline steadily after 7:00 pm and bottom off at about 3:00 am through 5:00 am, which correlates with data found by Forbes too.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles agrees and states that accidents are more likely between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm.

Considering Car Accident Numbers by the NYPD Precincts

While looking at crash data by borough certainly provides insight, one area left untouched is the precincts for NYPD.

When taking data from April 2015 and comparing them by NYPD precincts, you find the following areas have the highest number of collisions for that calendar month:

  • 109th Precinct: In the area of Flushing in Queens, April had 519 accidents with 8.6 percent per 100, causing injuries.
  • 105th Precinct: In Queens Village, April saw 508 accidents with 18.1 percent per 100, causing injuries.
  • 19th Precinct: In the Upper East Side of Manhattan, 474 accidents were resulting in 5.3 percent per 100 injuries.
  • 75th Precinct: In the Cypress Hills area of Brooklyn, there were 419 collisions in April, resulting in 16.7 percent per 100 injuries.
  • 108th Precinct: In Long Island City, there were 411 collisions in April that has 10.6 percent per 100 injuries.
  • Midtown North: In Midtown North, there were a total of 358 collisions with 5.7 injuries per 100.
  • 114th Precinct: In Astoria Queens, there were 358 collisions with 10.9 percent injuries per 100.
  • 104th Precinct: In Ridgewood Queens, there were 342 collisions with 9.2 injuries per 100 reported.
  • Midtown South: Midtown South saw 322 collisions with 7.9 injuries per 100.
  • 111th Precinct: The Bayside area of Queens saw 314 total accidents that month with 11.2 percent per 100 injuries.

The most collisions were in the 109th Precinct, and because it is a more significant precinct than the others, it makes sense they would see higher numbers. However, when you compare the numbers closely, the 46th Precinct, which includes West Bronx, actually had the highest number of collisions.

What about Incidents Involving Cyclists?

New York City sees a high rate of cyclists and pedestrian accidents with motor vehicles annually.

The area is known to be dangerous for anyone riding two wheels or walking in the city, and the 66th Precinct alone ranked highest for the number of cyclist injuries, but the 88th Precinct was the highest. When it comes to pedestrian injuries, the 66th Precinct was the highest, and it had more than double the rate of the NYC area’s overall average.

Do Streets and Intersections Play a Specific Role When it Comes to Auto Accidents?

Breaking the data down further by intersections, it is no surprise that most accidents were on high-traffic streets. Streets, such as the ones in l Midtown Manhattan have more than 25,000 to 75,000 vehicles travel through there daily.

Also, the Belt Parkway was one of the deadliest roadways for 2015, with 155 accidents, 57 injuries, and one fatality. Another area of concern was Flatbush Avenue, where the area had 166 accidents, 38 injuries, and six of those injured victims were pedestrians.

Interstate 495 was equally dangerous, and it had the highest rate of collisions for April 2015, with 54 injuries out of the 230 auto accidents.

What were the Common Reasons for these Auto Accidents?

Now that you know the statistics of how often accidents occur, and how many injuries have happened right down to the streets and highways, the next step is understanding the most common reasons for those accidents.

The most common reasons collisions occurred in NYC were:

  • Distracted Driving – accounting for 25.9%
  • Failure to Yield the Right of Way
  • Fatigued Driving
  • Turning Incorrectly
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Prescription Medications
  • Pavement Slips
  • Driver Inexperience
  • Backing Out Unsafely

What are the Most Vulnerable Vehicle Types?

In NYC, the bicycle is by far the most vulnerable, accounting for 77.5 percent of collisions. Scooters and motorcycles follow closely behind, and first responder vehicles ranked at 10th and 11th.

Taxi vehicles were ranked 5th on the list, and the 19th Precinct saw the most taxi-involved collisions in the year, while the 9th Precinct saw the fewest.

Most of these accidents occurred at low speeds, but that does not mean there is no risk for injury in these collisions. Even low-speed incidents can cause injuries like whiplash and chronic pain.

Summing it All Up: What Does It Mean?

NYC, if they plan to completely get rid of all accidents or fatal accidents in the five boroughs, has a lot of work to do. Not only will the Mayor need to consider these statistics and make significant legislative changes, but also consider how we can make streets safer for those on bikes, walking, and even riding motorcycles to reduce crashes throughout the city.