NEW YORK (PIX11) — Though it’s early in 2022, New York City is on pace to have potentially its deadliest year on the roads in about a decade.
A tragic crash in Queens on Wednesday claimed the life of a 10-year-old girl walking along the sidewalk not far from her school. On Thursday, as construction teams board up the car wash where the crash happened, neighborhood residents mourned Davina Afokoba.
Florence Gbinigie was out walking when a vehicle sped out of a supermarket parking lot. The 34-year-old driver seemed to speed up, lose control and slam into people walking on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, killing Afokoba.
“Very horrible, we are all afraid,” Gbinigie said.
Afokoba was the latest victim in a deadly year.
NYC traffic fatalities up 50% year-to-date.— Henry Rosoff (@HenryRosoff) February 10, 2022
Just compiled this city data dated 2/6, so it doesn’t include the horrible crash in Far Rockaway.
You see notable upticks in the Bronx, BK North, and Queens North.
This after a very deadly 2021.
More as I report throughout my day. pic.twitter.com/4uFbl0Fdz1
The Vision Zero program that showed so much promise early on in former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration became a twisted and tragic punchline by the end of his time, with traffic fatalities approaching 300 per year by the end of his term.
So far, 2022 is off to an even worse start. The city has seen a 50% increase in traffic fatalities as of Feb. 6 when compared to the same time period in 2021. That number does not include what happened in Far Rockaway to Afokoba.
Mayor Eric Adams is pledging to raise crosswalks, create more bike infrastructure and beef up enforcement.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards also points out there are little things that can make a big impact with new safety projects immediately— including hiring more traffic engineers.
“A lot of times it takes over a year to get an answer from the DOT even if it’s a problematic cross-section of the city,” Richards said.
Richards also points to the fact that more drivers are on the roads because they do not feel safe on public transportation, or do not find it reliable.
Many of the city’s traffic rules, regulations and funding are controlled by the state. Transportation and safety groups have been pushing for road redesign dollars, lower speed limits, and an expansion of the speed camera program to nights and weekends— all controlled by Albany.
“It’s important that vision zero is not just a slogan, vision zero has to be action on our streets and at our core it has to be about designing streets for safety,” said Cory Epstein with Transportation Alternatives.
The group is one of several advocating for a bundle of legislation around traffic safety.
“Yesterday’s crashes are tragedies, and our thoughts are with the victims and their families,” Adams said. “Traffic violence is a preventable crisis, and my administration is committed to working with our partners across the city and at the state level to end traffic violence.”