ALBANY, NY ( release ) Commissioner David J. Swarts of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today announced that preliminary crash data from 2009 indicates a more than six percent decrease in overall traffic fatalities, a more than seventeen percent decrease in motorcycle fatalities and a more than twenty-nine percent decrease in bicycle fatalities.
Preliminary crash data for 2009 indicates the total number of traffic fatalities decreased from 1,224 in 2008 to 1,146 in 2009. Additionally, data from the DMV shows that in 2009 motorcycle fatalities went from 188 to 155, and bicycle fatalities went from 42 to 29. Sadly, however, 30 percent of all fatal crashes continue to have alcohol as a contributing factor.
“While these statistics are very promising and proves that our more than 750 traffic safety programs funded by GTSC statewide are working, there is room for improvement,” Commissioner Swarts said. “Our goal has been to ensure that both state and local grant recipients create programs that will continue to educate and remind motorists of proper safety behaviors, which includes not drinking and driving.”
Many of New York’s traffic safety programs are funded through GTSC. The GTSC is comprised of 12 state agencies, all of which play a significant role in helping to reduce crashes by distributing federal highway safety grants to state, local and not-for-profit agencies to conduct various highway and traffic safety initiatives.
The highway safety programs are derived from utilizing industry recognized best practices. In part, they include comprehensive public education and outreach, combined state and local law enforcement efforts, and proper engineering of our roadways. These efforts have created many successful working partnerships within GTSC aimed at the single task of reducing crashes and saving lives.
Commissioner Swarts indicated that the use of seatbelts also increased this year. According to the annual seat belt usage rate study for 2010, this year the seatbelt usage rate was 90 percent, marking the third consecutive year that New York has maintained a significantly high rating. The national use rate was only 84 percent in 2009. In 1984, New York State became the first state to enact a mandatory seat belt law and full enforcement of the law began in January, 1985. New York is a primary enforcement state which means a law enforcement officer can stop a vehicle and issue a traffic ticket for failure to wear a seat belt without observing another violation. Failure to wear a seat belt carries a fine of up to $50.
For more information please visit www.nysdmv.com or www.safeny.com.