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Are car accidents common in New York City?

By Dansker & Aspromonte

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July 20, 2024

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Car accident statistics show an average of six million vehicle collisions across the United States every year. The accidents lead to three million injuries, with about two million drivers experiencing permanent damages. Additionally, about 90 people die in motor vehicle collisions every day in America.

When it comes to New York City, car accidents are common in all five boroughs. We have gathered the latest data from New York City officials to help you better understand how often crashes occur in NYC and why they happen.

Breaking Down New York City Car Accident Statistics

Data from the New York City Police Department shows there were a total of 228,047 motor vehicle collisions across the city in 2018. That number breaks down to:

  • 19,000 car accidents per month
  • 4,750 car accidents per week
  • 678 car accidents per day
  • 28 car accidents per hour
  • One car accident every two minutes

The number of motor vehicle accidents slightly decreased to 206,754 in 2019. It declined even further to 110,834 accidents in 2020. The drop was primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people at home and off the roads in 2020.

When New York City Traffic Accidents Occur

In general, car accidents in New York City are most common on the weekdays, especially during the lunch hour and evening commute. Crash data from 2018 shows that May and June were the most dangerous months to drive through New York, as they were the months with the highest number of reported motor vehicle accidents. 

However, car accidents involving bicyclists always increase in the summer, while pedestrian accidents peak during November and December. In fact, there are nearly twice as many pedestrian accidents in December than in July due to the increase in pedestrian traffic during the holiday season.

Motorcycle collisions are most prevalent during the summer months. Data shows that motorcycle crashes can increase as much as 700% in June compared to January.

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New York City Car Accident Statistics for 2020

There were a total of 110,834 traffic accidents throughout New York City in 2020. But despite the 46% decrease in car accidents from 2019, it was still a deadly year for traffic deaths. The New York Times reports at least 243 car accident fatalities in 2020, making it the deadliest year for car accidents since 2014.

However, since the COVID-19 pandemic caused more people to work from home, the city saw a significant decrease in pedestrian, truck, and bus accidents in 2020. Instead, fewer people and police on the streets led to more accidents caused by reckless driving and speeding. 

The city also saw an increase in bicycle accidents as more New Yorkers used bicycles to travel rather than the subway.

Car Accident Statistics for New York City Boroughs

In 2020, Brooklyn was the New York City borough with the most motor vehicle crashes, and Staten Island had the fewest number of collisions. We have broken down the number of accidents each borough experienced below:

  • Brooklyn: 35,245 motor vehicle accidents in 2020 (highest number)
  • Queens: 33,192 car crashes in 2020
  • Bronx: 21,519 car accidents in 2020
  • Manhattan: 16,230 vehicle collisions in 2020
  • Staten Island: 4,648 auto accidents in 2020

In addition to having the highest number of car accidents, Brooklyn also had the highest percentage of traffic injuries. The borough accounted for 32.8% of New York City’s car accident injuries in 2020, followed by Queens, which made up 28.6%. Since Staten Island saw the fewest motor vehicle collisions, it also reported the lowest number of injuries (4.3%).

However, despite Brooklyn having the highest number of car accidents, the most fatalities occurred in Queens. There were 40 motor vehicle deaths in Queens in 2020, followed by 21 deaths in the Bronx, 20 in Brooklyn, five in Manhattan, and four fatalities in Staten Island.

Common Causes of Motor Vehicle Collisions in New York City

The most common causes of car accidents throughout New York City are:

  • Driving while distracted: Operating a vehicle while texting, talking on the phone, playing with the radio, or engaging in something that prevents you from focusing on the road.
  • Reckless passing: Attempting to pass another vehicle in a no-passing zone or without yielding to other drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians.
  • Aggressive driving: Following too closely to the car in front of you (tailgating) or speeding.
  • Drunk driving: Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A study from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) from March 2019 showed how driver inattention and distractions contributed to the majority of accidents across the city. 

In 5,553 of the reported accidents, distracted driving was found to be the main contributing factor of most car accidents. The motor vehicle accidents could have been prevented if the drivers had paid attention to the road, not their handheld devices or other distractions.

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New York State Fatalities Due to Car Accidents

According to the New York State Department of Health, car accidents are the 4th leading cause of death throughout the state. Statistics show that there are approximately 91 traffic-related deaths a month in New York. Additionally, the New York State Department of Health attributes 11,500 emergency room visits to car accidents every month.

Drunk driving plays a significant role in the number of American traffic deaths each year. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 10,497 people were killed in 2016, which boils down to one alcohol-related car accident death every 51 minutes in the United States.

Finally, distracted driving is a major problem as it relates to car accidents nationwide. For example, NHTSA recorded 3,450 distracted driving-related car accident deaths.

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What to Do After a New York City Car Collision

If you were injured in a New York motor vehicle collision, call the police and seek medical attention right away. Once your injuries are tended to, you can assess your damages and determine if you should take legal action against the at-fault driver. 

Since New York is a no-fault insurance state, you will first have to file a claim with the applicable No-Fault provider.  Depending upon the circumstances of your automobile case, the No-Fault provider could be the vehicle that struck you if you were a pedestrian or your own vehicle if you were in your own vehicle when the incident occurred.  

If you were in a friend’s vehicle at the time of the incident, you may have the right to file for No-Fault with the host vehicle or your own personal vehicle if you had one in your household.  No-fault insurance can reimburse you for medical bills and other financial losses you suffered due to the accident, regardless of who was at fault. 

However, no-fault insurance is limited in what it covers. Therefore, if you sustained serious injuries in a New York car accident, you may need to take additional legal action to recoup compensation for your pain and suffering, and any other damages not paid by the No-Fault insurance. To ensure you and your loved ones recover the compensation you are entitled to, reach out to a New York City car accident lawyer as soon as possible to learn about your rights.

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