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A New York Plan to Share the Road: Swedish Style

In May each year, the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reminds motorists across the United States to share the road. In New York this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio planned for New Yorkers to share the road Swedish style.

In February, Mayor Blasio announced Vision Zero, a sweeping plan to eliminate traffic fatalities in the city through initiatives to:

  • Increase speed enforcement
  • Publish crash and safety data and update technology for capturing that data
  • Create slow zones
  • Increase the number of cameras that track speed near schools
  • Pilot event data recorders in the taxi fleet
  • Create and deploy educational campaigns

In pursuing Vision Zero, Mayor de Blasio is modeling his hopes on Sweden, which boasts an internationally recognized low rate of traffic deaths. A recent article in the New York Times details efforts made by that country to reduce deaths, including:

  • Designing roads around the assumption that humans make mistakes, rather focusing safety dollars to develop ongoing education campaigns.
  • Continuing reduction of speed limits.
  • Use of barriers, medians and obstacles that may increase minor crashes and injury, but decrease high-speed fatal accidents.
  • Exploration of energy-absorbing pavement to reduce the rate of injury when pedestrians fall or are struck.

Along with traffic and design improvements, Sweden enforces a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of just .02 percent, compared to .08 percent in the United States. Motorists are also subject to random breath tests that keep the rate of impaired driving accidents low.

By 2024, Mayor de Blasio hopes his ambitious plan drops the traffic fatality rate in our city. Now or then, if you are injured in a traffic accident in the city, seek skilled legal advice.

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