10:55 am Sep. 27, 20122
It's not just New York: the nation's traffic fatality rate is way up, too.
National traffic-fatality numbers made their biggest half-year jump in "recorded history," according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In the first half of this year, 16,290 people died in car crashes nationwide, a nine percent increase over the first half of 2011, when 14,950 died in such circumstances.
Meanwhile, in New York City, 291 people died on city streets between July 2011 and June 2012, a 23 percent increase from the 236 traffic fatalities the year prior.
There were increases in both the number of drivers and passengers killed, and in the number of cyclists and pedestrians.
Like New York City's D.O.T., the federal agency pointed out that this was an increase from an historic low. The agency also said it too early to provide an explanation.
Janette Sadik-Khan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's transportation commission, said the jump in New York City might be attributable to smartphone use, and New Yorkers' propensity to navigate city streets ensconced in their own electronic worlds.
“That breakup text can wait," she told the Times.
When I asked Joshua Schank, president and C.E.O. of the Eno Center for Transportation, about that, he said, "That’s as reasonable a theory as any, but there’s no way to know unless you see some data on it."
Regarding the national increase in fatal traffic accidents, he said, "Until you have good evidence on the cause, it's hard to know whether the national increase and the New York City increase are related."
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