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Traffic Fatalities On The Rise In NYC

West Side Highway - Sept. 27, 2012 (credit: NYC DOT)

West Side Highway – Sept. 27, 2012 (credit: NYC DOT)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - For the first time since 2007, the number of traffic-related fatalities in New York City has risen.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb On The Story

According to the Mayor’s Management Report, fatalities from July 2011 through June 2012 were up 23 percent from the previous year.

The total rose from 236 to 291.

In 2007, there were 310 traffic fatalities, after years of decline.

The report blames the increase in traffic fatalities on speeding, drunk driving, and blowing through red lights and stop signs.

But many of the crashes were on highways and City Council transportation chair James Vacca has an observation on that.

“The highway unit of the New York City Police Department has been reduced since 2001, has been reduced by 50 percent, and that 50 percent reduction meant that many of those duties were assigned to local precincts and those local precincts are down 7,000 police officers since 2001,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb.

Vacca says they need to look at enforcement on our highways as well as strategies for our streets.

Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says distracted driving and distracted walking also may be partly to blame for the rise in deaths.

The Sadik-Khan era has broughan increase in protected bike lanes, pedestrian islands, floating parking, and dedicated bus lanes to the city, but New Yorkers told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello that they were torn over the usefulness of these changes.

“I’m a fan of bike lanes,” said one man, while another countered, “no it’s not working at all.”

But, Sadik-Khan said that she will continue to implement changes in the name of safety, which includes the “Look Campaign” which will seek to reduce injuries to distracted pedestrians, and a proposed plan to install cameras that would automatically ticket drivers going 10-mph over the speed limit.

Do you feel safe out there? Sound off below.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)