Mean Streets: Who Is Dying in Traffic Crashes and Why

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 – 04:00 AM

Source: TransportationNation

Cars sit in traffic on West 53rd street in midtown Manhattan. (Natalie Fertig/WNYC)

Cars sit in traffic on West 53rd street in midtown Manhattan. (Natalie Fertig/WNYC)

More than half of the 27 pedestrians killed by cars in New York City this year died on major roadways. That’s just one of the findings of a new WNYC analysis of traffic deaths, Mean Streets. We wanted to help New Yorkers understand who is dying on the city streets from traffic-related causes, and why.

As of March 19, 45 people have been killed in traffic crashes in 2014: 27 pedestrians, 13 drivers, three passengers and two cyclists. The youngest person killed was 5-year-old Rashard Charles, who died in Crown Heights on March 16. The oldest was 81-year-old Ruben Rivera, killed in a hit-and-run on Atlantic Avenue in February. Nine of the 45 deaths did not get media attention until now.

Fourteen of the 27 pedestrians died on or near busy thoroughfares, like 125thStreet or Northern Boulevard, which connect major highways and bridges.

Five of the pedestrian deaths were caused by city-owned vehicles, including garbage trucks and MTA buses.

Charges were filed in 7 cases, according to the best data available. Two additional crashes were hit-and-run deaths of pedestrians. As WNYC has extensivelyreported, charges are rare, even in fatal crashes.

How we did it:

When someone is killed in New York City, the police department sends an email to news organizations. We have used those emails to compile this list, along with news reports and social media posts.

We contacted the NYPD, after noticing discrepancies between our total and those kept by advocacy groups tracking traffic deaths. The department’s total was different from ours, and we worked with police to identify the deaths missing from our data.

Public data released by the New York Police Department runs on a two-month lag. The data includes only the locations of fatal crashes, and does not provide details on victims, drivers, or the incident.

How you can help:

We may be missing some data. If you know of incidents that aren’t on our tracker, please contact Kat Aaron, our reporter on this project at We are also tracking whether charges are filed against drivers involved in crashes. We have noted the status of charges when available, but that information is unknown for many crashes. If you have details on the charges for specific crashes, let us know.


The trends across the country show a similar pattern. The two most “vulnerable users” of the roadway are first motorists and second pedestrians. Bicyclists are a distant third in almost every instance.

This begs the question as to who such an inordinately disproportionate amount of money and public attention is being directed at cyclists when they have the least worries concerning their safety? By far and away pedestrians should be the ones receiving the lion’s share of the concern and public funding to resolve their safety issues.

We do not need more bike lanes, we need safer sidewalks and pedestrians intersections.