Major Eric Adams launched a $4 million campaign to urge motorists to slow down and drive carefully in a bid to make the streets safer for pedestrians on Monday.
In partnership with the city’s Department of Transportation, the campaign, titled “Speeding Ruins Lives, Slow Down,” will consist of radio and television advertisements and billboards in bus shelters, kiosks, and on gas station pumps, asking drivers to drive the speed limit in nine different languages. The campaign will also feature advertisements in ethnic and community newspapers — the first Vision Zero campaign to focus on spreading the word in the city’s small papers.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen traffic violence increase drastically in the past two years,” said Major Adams on Monday, as he and DOT commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez unveiled the first billboard on Pennsylvania Avenue in East New York. “Traffic safety is public safety, and today we are continuing to take action against traffic violence.”
With 35 traffic fatalities and more than 300 serious injuries since 2017, East New York is one of the neighborhoods hit hardest by traffic violence. The city is also working to redesign the stretch to make it safer for motorists and pedestrians. The new billboard, mounted high over the roadway, pictures a pedestrian flying through the air after being struck by a vehicle.
“Over the next two months, New Yorkers will see for themselves the horrible aftermath of driving too fast,” said DOT Commissioner Rodriguez. “This campaign will be unprecedented in the extent of its outreach.”
At least 59 people were killed in traffic collisions in the first four months of the year, according to Transportation Alternatives, and the New York City Police Department reported issuing nearly 50 percent more traffic summonses from the end of March to late April than the same time period last year, with an even more significant uptick in summonses in East New York. Last year saw the highest number of people killed in car crashes in New York City Since 2014, with at least 80 people killed in Brooklyn alone.
“Speeding is the leading cause of pedestrian deaths,” said New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission Acting Commissioner Ryan Wanttaja. “We know that the slower you drive, the more time you have to brake and react, and the TLC is proud to stand with the Department of Transportation on this campaign.”
Targeted areas include Bushwick and Canarsie in Brooklyn, Jamaica in Queens, Harlem and Washington Heights in Manhattan and Hunts Point in the South Bronx. City officials said these neighborhoods were selected based on elevated crash data.
“We’re implementing design-build for the first time in city infrastructure projects”, said New York City Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Thomas Foley. “We’re incorporating private utility work directly into our contracts so we have more control and fewer delays, and we’re using more precast concrete elements that let us continue work in the colder winter months. We’ll continue to seek ways to build safe streets projects faster and more efficiently.”
The city’s eight-year-old transportation policy, called Vision Zero, which once aimed to eliminate all traffic deaths and had become a national model, won state approval to lower the speed limit to 25 m.p.h. from 30 m.p.h. on most streets in the city in 2014. A sprawling network of nearly 2,000 automated speed cameras was built and many streets were redesigned to make them safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Adams dedicated $900 million to street safety in his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and is pushing to take local control of automated traffic safety measures like school zone speed cameras and red light cameras, as well as giving the city control over its own speed limits.
“This is a real crisis,” Adams said. “Having save streets is more than gun violence. The metal of a bullet destroys lives and the metal of a car destroys lives.”