Governor's Traffic Safety Committee

Highway Safety Strategic Plan

Highway Safety Strategic Plan - 2002


Message from George E. Pataki
Governor of New York State

Governor PatakiNew York State continues to lead the nation in the field of traffic safety. We have a long history of implementing innovative and successful programs in this area and many of our programs have become models for other states. As the highway safety environment continues to evolve, I am confident that we will maintain our leadership role by continuing to develop fresh new approaches to problems that may arise.

One of the priorities of our highway safety program is the reduction of unsafe driving behaviors. In addition to our continuing efforts to reduce impaired driving and aggressive driving behaviors, we are also pursuing legislation and other strategies to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. Another priority is increasing the safety of pedestrians in New York City and throughout the state.

I am proud to present New York State's 2002 Highway Safety Strategic Plan. Now in our fourth year of performance-based planning, the program utilizes scientific methods, including data-driven problem identification and program evaluation. Performance-based planning enables us to identify emerging traffic safety issues and direct our resources toward our most serious problems.

A heartfelt "thank you" to all members of New York State's traffic safety community for your contributions toward saving lives and reducing injuries on our roadways.


Message from Raymond P. Martinez
Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee


Commissioner MartinezGovernor Pataki and I are pleased to present New York's 2002 Highway Safety Strategic Plan. This plan states goals and objectives for reducing the number of traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities on our highways. These goals and objectives are achievable through a comprehensive and coordinated program utilizing the proven strategies of public information, education, enforcement, and engineering improvements.

Our top priorities in the coming year will be to reduce unsafe driving behaviors, increase the use of occupant restraints, and improve pedestrian safety. We will continue our successful Buckle Up New York campaign which combines public education and zero-tolerance enforcement of the occupant restraint law. A wide range of funded programs will address our other priorities, including impaired driving, aggressive driving, and speeding.

Our Highway Safety Strategic Plan is a strong one. This is attributable to a number of factors, not the least of which is New York's experience in implementing innovative programs. The other chief factor responsible for the strength of our Plan is a high degree of cooperation among public agencies and private organizations at all jurisdictional levels. We are also committed to research and evaluation and improving the traffic records systems that support these efforts.

No summary of the strengths of our highway safety program would be complete, however, without mentioning the people who coordinate and conduct the safety activities. I would like to thank all of our traffic safety partners for their dedication and commitment toward improving the safety of the highway environment. I look forward to working with you in the coming year to achieve even greater successes in traffic safety.

Road and mountains    





The goals of New York's comprehensive statewide highway safety program are to prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, and reduce the severity of injuries suffered in crashes. The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) provides leadership and support for the attainment of these goals through its administration of the federal 402 program and the various TEA-21 incentive grants awarded to the state.

The top priorities of Governor Pataki's year 2002 highway safety program are the reduction of unsafe driving behaviors, including speeding and impaired driving; increasing the use of occupant restraints; and improving the safety of pedestrians. These priorities are reflected in the 2002 Highway Safety Strategic Plan. This document outlines the major highway safety problems that have been identified and presents short-term and long-term performance goals for improvements in these areas. In addition to comprehensive statewide goals, specific goals and objectives for each major program area have been established. Brief descriptions of the current status, goals, and objectives of the statewide highway safety program and the major program areas follow.


GTSC is responsible for the coordination of state and local initiatives directed toward the highway safety priorities identified in the annual Highway Safety Strategic Plan. In recognition that the overall goals of the Section 402 Highway Safety Program are shared by the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP), steps have been taken to expand the communication between GTSC and the administrators of the MCSAP program in New York State. This communication has resulted in the development of a Highway Safety State-of-the-State Report and a strategic plan to achieve a 20% reduction in motor vehicle-related fatalities and serious injuries over the next 10 years ("20/10 Initiative"). This sharing of information will result in better coordination of safety efforts and more efficient and effective use of the available resources.

Governor Pataki's Traffic Safety Committee leads the state's traffic safety community in a performance-based planning process to identify goals for the statewide highway safety program. A crucial part of the process is problem identification which is accomplished through analyses of crash, fatality, and injury measures such as those presented below.

Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002
Fatalities 1,630 1,505 1,584 1,444 1,420 1,350
Fatal Crash Rate/
100 million VMT
1.24 1.13 1.15 1.08 1.03 0.97
Mean Severity
of Injury (MSI)
1.306 1.293 1.274 1.249 1.201 1.139

Over the four years, 1997 to 2000, an average of 1,541 people died each year as a result of motor vehicle crashes in New York State. The fatal crash rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) declined considerably from 1997 to 2000. For each of these years, New York State's fatal crash rate was consistently below the national level. As indicated by the decrease in the MSI, the severity of injuries suffered in crashes declined steadily between 1997 and 2000.


The overall goals of New York's highway safety program are to prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, and reduce the severity of the injuries suffered. A comprehensive approach will be undertaken with strategies implemented in all of the major highway safety program areas. The effectiveness of the collective efforts will be assessed through changes in fatality and injury measures.


Alcohol and other drug-impaired driving continues to threaten the safety of all road users in New York State. As part of its long-term commitment to improve highway safety, New York conducts a vigorous campaign to fight impaired driving. Enhanced enforcement efforts have been successfully coupled with increased public information and education to produce very positive results.

Important legislative initiatives such as the Zero Tolerance Law enacted in 1996, and increased license sanctions for the use of fraudulent identification to purchase alcohol, have played a key role in reducing impaired driving by persons under the age of 21. Governor Pataki continues to support legislation that would encourage the sellers of alcoholic beverages to install electronic devices to verify a customer's age directly from the driver's license. Additional measures, such as legislation recently signed into law by Governor Pataki prohibiting the possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle, have contributed to the reduction in the number of crashes involving impaired drivers in New York State.

In order to sustain the progress achieved thus far, new strategies must be developed and implemented. For instance, Governor Pataki has signed legislation to encourage retail establishments that sell and serve alcoholic beverages to attend a certified Alcohol Awareness Training Program. This law will take effect in 2003. New York City, Nassau County and Suffolk County have pioneered the innovative strategy of confiscating the automobiles of motorists arrested for drunken driving. Rensselaer County has recently adopted this measure, and other jurisdictions are encouraged to adopt this policy as well.


Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002
Alcohol-Related Fatalities 322 328 333 334 310 270
Alcohol-Related Injuries 10,413 9,775 8,868 9,263 9,000 8,700
  * Police-reported crashes

In each year from 1997 through 2000, there have been approximately 330 alcohol-related fatalities. In 1999 and 2000 there were approximately 9,000 alcohol-related injuries in crashes, compared to about 10,000 in 1997 and 1998.


The primary goals of the impaired driving program are to reduce the numbers of alcohol-related traffic fatalities and injuries. These goals will be accomplished by increasing enforcement of the impaired driving laws, conducting training programs for police officers on underage alcohol sales enforcement, conducting training for prosecutors, and raising public awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving. A variety of educational programs for drivers under age 21 will be supported. Other measures that target underage drinking drivers, drivers 21 to 29 years of age, and repeat offenders will be emphasized.


A combination of highly visible enforcement and public information and education is needed to achieve and sustain significant improvements in highway safety. These strategies have the added benefit of encouraging positive behavior such as safety belt use. Highly publicized selective enforcement efforts targeting impaired driving, seat belt use, and aggressive driving have been very effective in New York. Although traditional enforcement strategies are successful with the general driving population, new approaches must be identified for certain populations, including drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked, drivers under 21 years old, uninsured drivers, and drivers who refuse to wear safety restraints.

Analysis of data related to motor vehicle crashes indicates that the total number of reportable crashes increased dramatically over the four-year period, 1997-2000. The crash rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) also showed considerable increases between 1997 and 2000. Much of the increase in these two measures is attributable to the changes in the policies relating to accident reporting.   Footnote 1

Year 1997 * 1998 * 1999 2000 2002
Total Crashes 263,604 306,646 356,981 392,245 390,000 384,000
Fatal Crash Rate/
100 million VMT
218 24 282 311 299 286
  * Change in reporting; see footnote Footnote 1



Speed enforcement continues to be a priority, since it is well known that vehicle speed contributes directly to the severity of a crash. Between 1997 and 2000, the proportion of drivers involved in police-reported crashes where speed was listed as a contributing factor was between 5% and 6%. However, the number of drivers involved in a crash where speed was a contributing factor increased significantly from 1997 to 2000. Enforcement agencies in jurisdictions covered by TSLE&D wrote almost 677,000 tickets for speeding in 2000, accounting for 31% of all tickets issued.

Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002
Drivers Involved in a Crash Where
Speed Was a Contributing Factor
21,715 23,704 28,408 32,961 31,900 29,900



Over the past several years, the public has become well acquainted with the terms "aggressive driving" and "road rage." Speeding, failure to yield the right-of-way, and improper passing/lane usage accounted for approximately 6%, 10%, and 8%, respectively, of the crash-related violations charged from 1997 to 2000. These actions, which in themselves often cause crashes, may be accompanied by other negative driver-to-driver interactions, such as shouting and obscene gestures; these incidents may then escalate into "road rage.

Under Governor Pataki's leadership, New York was among the first states to address the problem of aggressive driving, and the Governor proposed legislation to increase the penalties for dangerously aggressive driving. A major initiative is the New York State Police Aggressive Driving Enforcement program, which seeks to reduce the number of deaths and injuries which result from aggressive driving through a combination of public education and enforcement.

The New York City Police Department is currently expanding its Combat Aggressive Driving (CAD) program. The program has allowed the NYPD to purchase in-car video systems and to fund details dedicated to aggressive driving enforcement. The Department is seizing for forfeiture the vehicles of certain aggressive drivers, including reckless drivers, those traveling at twice the speed limit, and those receiving citations for three or more hazardous driving violations at one time. Other police agencies statewide are also focusing more attention on aggressive drivers. GTSC will fund a number of STEP and Comprehensive Traffic Enforcement Programs that include aggressive driving components.


The primary goal of the police traffic services program is to decrease the number and severity of motor vehicle crashes by deterring aggressive driving and other risky behaviors, including speeding, tailgating, etc. In addition to routine and selective enforcement approaches, training programs will be conducted for police officers, probation officers, judges, and prosecutors. Proposed legislation would establish criminal sanctions for aggressive driving, and require prelicensing and defensive driving courses to include aggressive driving components. New initiatives targeting specific issues, such as aggressive drivers, scofflaws, unlicensed drivers, and commercial vehicle operators will also be explored.


During the seasons of the year when weather permits, motorcycles continue to be a popular mode of transportation in New York. The number of motorcycle registrations increased to more than 200,000 in 2000, a seven-year high. Motorcyclists face particular risks on the road, since they are highly vulnerable in a crash.

In 1997, New York began a major initiative to improve motorcycle safety by establishing the Motorcycle Safety Program. Created through legislation signed by Governor Pataki, this rider-funded program provides instruction and field training to improve the riding skills of motorcyclists. The program, administered by the Motorcycle Association of New York State, Inc., now offers training at 17 sites around the state and includes a public information component aimed at raising the awareness of all motorists to motorcycles. Additional training sites will be established in future years.

Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002
Motorcycle Crashes 3,534 3,740 4,128 4,211 3,800 3,600
Motorcyclists Killed 114 112 113 118 111 104

Motorcycle crashes decreased considerably during the mid-1990s, However, the number of motorcycle crashes increased between 1997 and 2000; in 2000 there were 4,211 crashes involving motorcycles. Young motorcycle operators continue to be overrepresented in fatal and personal injury motorcycle crashes: 10% of the motorcyclists involved in crashes were under 21 years of age, but less than 1% of the licensed operators are in this age group; 34% of motorcyclists involved in crashes were aged 21-29, but only 7% of the licensed operators are between the ages of 21 and 29.


The primary goals in the area of motorcycle safety are to reduce the number of motorcycle crashes and fatalities. Objectives include continued expansion of motorcycle rider education opportunities and examination of the characteristics of motorcycle crashes and unlicensed operators. The strategies that will be used include public information and education and research and evaluation initiatives. Research will focus on identifying trends and issues related to the characteristics of fatal motorcycle crashes and the operators in these crashes, and assessing the extent to which persons continue to operate motorcycles without the proper license. The public information and education activities will stress the need for the public to be aware of motorcyclists.


Pedestrians, bicyclists, and in-line skaters are our most vulnerable roadway users. Although crashes involving a pedestrian, bicyclist, or in-liner skater represent only about 6% of the reportable crashes in the state, they account for about one-fourth of all fatal crashes and approximately 10% of all injury crashes. The injuries sustained in these crashes often require extensive medical treatment and/or lengthy rehabilitation. Pedestrian safety has been identified as a priority for FY 2002. Public information and education efforts will be a major countermeasure in this program area.

In recognizing the need to address this area, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has partnered with NHTSA, the New York State Department of Transportation, and GTSC to form a 20/10 planning committee whose responsibilities will involve identifying and developing strategies for reducing pedestrian crashes. "20/10" refers to the goal of reducing fatalities and serious injuries by 20% over ten years.



Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002
Pedestrians Killed (NYS) 374 372 383 335 320 300
  New York City 222 181 186 180 170 160
Pedestrians Injured (NYS) 18,830 18,836 17,966 17,320 16,700 15,700

Approximately 375 pedestrians were killed and 18,000 to 19,000 were injured each year from 1997 to 1999. These numbers decreased somewhat in 2000. In each year, approximately half of all pedestrian fatalities occurred in New York City.



Over the four-year period, 1997-2000, 38 to 53 bicyclists have been killed each year in motor vehicle crashes. New York State's law requiring children under age 14 to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle was implemented to mitigate the severity of injuries. Efforts to prevent bicycle crashes through education and increased public awareness for both bicyclists and motorists will continue.

Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002
Bicyclists Killed (NYS) 49 53 45 38 32 27
  New York City 20 18 27 15 14 12
Bicyclists Injured (NYS) 9,109 8,616 7,787 7,061 6,600 6,200

In 2000, 46% of the bicyclists killed or injured in motor vehicle crashes were under 20 years of age; another 39% were between the ages of 20 and 44. Over the past four years, more than half (56%) of the bicycle/motor vehicle crashes occurred in New York City.



In-line skating continues to increase in popularity in New York State. Although primarily a recreational activity, it is also used by messenger/delivery services, particularly in the New York City area. Since January 1996, when legislation signed by Governor Pataki became effective, children under age 14 have been required to wear a helmet when skating. In July 1996, a revised police crash report form was distributed to enforcement agencies; this form captures information on in-line skating crashes, including the type of safety equipment used by skaters. Many localities are beginning to track crashes involving in-line skaters and have expanded their programs to include this issue.


The primary goals of the pedestrian, bicycle and in-line skating safety programs are to reduce the number of pedestrians, bicyclists, and skaters killed and injured. These goals will be accomplished by providing safety education to both the general public and specific target groups, developing and evaluating engineering solutions to address these problems, and expanding helmet distribution programs. Community-based programs will play a major role in these efforts. Research and evaluation activities will be undertaken to assist in defining the scope and nature of the various safety issues, assess program effectiveness, and identify potential countermeasures.


In May 1996, New York State launched the Buckle Up New York campaign, spearheaded by First Lady Libby Pataki. Over the past two years, these efforts expanded greatly when the New York State Police, with support from the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, conducted a major enforcement program to encourage more New Yorkers to buckle up. Section 157b Innovative Grant funds have supported the participation of over 200 local enforcement agencies in the program. As a result, the most recent statewide seat belt survey in 2000 indicated that the statewide usage rate had increased to 77%.

This year, New York State will again expand the campaign of aggressive enforcement and education. To date, this effort has resulted in unprecedented numbers of tickets issued for violations of the safety restraint laws. The Buckle Up New York campaign is striving to achieve an ambitious goal of 85% seat belt usage.

It is currently estimated that more than 3,300 lives have been saved on the state's roadways since New York implemented its seat belt law in 1984. The youngest vehicle occupants continue to be of special concern, since motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among children. The Child Passenger Safety Task Force, established in 1998, continues to take a lead role in seeking solutions to the issues that have been identified. New York currently has more than 150 permanent child safety seat fitting stations; these stations enable certified child passenger safety seat technicians to educate the public across the state in the proper use and installation of child safety seats.

Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002
Fatalities .19% .15% .13% .11% .10% .09%
Serious injuries 2.42% 1.96% 1.57% 1.37% 1.32% 1.26%

The number and percentage of fatalities among vehicle occupants covered by the seat belt law declined from 1997 to 2000. The number and percentage of covered occupants receiving serious injuries also declined over this period.

Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002
Mean Severity of Injury 1.273 1.262 1.245 1.224 1.187 1.138

Over the period 1997 to 2000, the Mean Severity of Injury (MSI) measure also indicates a decrease in the severity of injuries suffered by the occupants of vehicles covered by the seat belt law. In calculating the MSI, a weight of 4 is assigned to a fatality, 3 to a serious injury, 2 to a moderate injury, and 1 to a minor injury. Between 1997 and 2000, the MSI declined from 1.273 to 1.224.


The primary goals of the occupant protection program are to decrease the number of vehicle occupants killed and to mitigate the severity of the injuries suffered. This will be accomplished by encouraging seat belt use and enhancing the safety of young passengers by increasing the number of children 12 and under who ride in the back seat and the number of children who are properly restrained in child safety seats. The strategies identified for accomplishing these goals include enforcement, research to identify target groups' of motorists who do not comply with the law, public information and education, and child passenger safety training.

TRAFFIC RECORDS traffic records

The extensive use of performance-based program planning by agencies and organizations involved in traffic safety at all jurisdictional levels has increased the need for accessibility to traffic records data. An accurate, timely, and comprehensive traffic records system is of paramount importance in identifying the nature and location of traffic safety problems so that appropriate countermeasures can be instituted.

The importance placed on improving the state's traffic records systems is evident in Governor Pataki's continuing commitment to reengineering the accident and ticket systems. In 1995, a multi-agency effort led by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research resulted in the development of New York's Strategic Plan for Traffic Records Improvements. The status of the improvements identified in 1995 has been assessed annually since 1998.

To enhance the state's capabilities to identify traffic safety problems, to determine the progress of programmatic initiatives, and to provide for the administrative tracking of drivers, the following areas of the traffic records systems have been undergoing improvement: crashes, enforcement/adjudication, drivers, vehicles, roadways, and injury surveillance. Major reengineering initiatives involving the crash and ticket records systems are well underway. These efforts have been accompanied by important changes in other areas, especially with regard to roadway and injury surveillance information.


The primary goals of the efforts undertaken in the area of traffic records are to continue the reengineering of the DMV accident and ticket records systems, improve data linkage capabilities among traffic safety-related data systems, and assist with the coordination and direction of efforts to upgrade the state's various traffic safety-related data systems. This will be accomplished through support for the implementation of new technologies by state agencies and local police agencies. The strategies include continued involvement in the state's Safety Management System, increased use of technology for data collection and dissemination, the development and use of linked data bases, and research and evaluation initiatives to support problem identification and the development and evaluation of countermeasures.



New York was the first state to recognize and address the problem of drowsy driving in a systematic and comprehensive manner. The state's Task Force on Drowsy Driving remains in place, ready to address any new issues or changing conditions related to drowsy driving. The GTSC continues to monitor crashes in which "fell asleep" and/or "fatigue" were cited as contributing factors. In addition, GTSC encourages the incorporation of drowsy driving components in community-based traffic safety programs and statewide public information and educational messages continue to disseminate information on the dangers of driving while drowsy.


The primary goal in the area of drowsy driving is to reduce the number of fatal and personal injury "fell asleep" motor vehicle crashes. This will be accomplished by continuing public information and education efforts and by developing drowsy driving programs at state and local levels that focus on youth, shift workers and infrastructure improvements.



Another emerging area of concern is the issue of distracted drivers and their contribution to crashes on the state's roadways. Some of the most common examples of distracted driving are tuning the car radio, eating, drinking, conversing with passengers, reading and writing, talking on the telephone, and personal grooming. In 2000, driver inattention was a contributing factor in almost 10% of the fatal and nearly 22% of the personal injury police-reported crashes. As is believed to be the case with drowsy driving, distracted driving is likely to be underreported. More information on the scope and specific characteristics of the problem is needed. Effective November 1, 2001, it will be illegal to use a hand-held cellular telephone while driving; penalties for violations will be phased in over a three-month period.


Community Traffic Safety Programs combine strategies from several traffic safety program areas to address local highway safety problems. Communities within a county are encouraged to cooperatively develop a strategic plan which identifies and documents the county's highway safety problems; establishes performance goals, objectives, and measures; and proposes strategies that target the problems identified. Because of the integral role local programs play in achieving the statewide highway safety goals, increasing the number of counties participating in the program continues to be a priority. With the expanding number of programs available through GTSC, the number of counties participating in the 402 and related programs has climbed to 56. GTSC will continue to explore grant programs with the six counties that did not participate in 2000. It is expected that all counties will have funded projects in the future, allowing them to work on common traffic safety goals.

The strategies implemented under the individual community traffic safety programs will contribute to the attainment of the goals established for the statewide highway safety program. In addition to funding local programs, the strategies in this area include the further development of inter-organizational and target group coalitions, the provision of public information resources, and training for community program managers and staff.


Over the four-year period from 1997 to 2000, approximately 12% of fatal crashes and 11% of personal injury crashes occurred on limited access highways. In comparison, 60% of fatal crashes and 38% of injury crashes occurred on state, county, and town roads, and 28% of fatal crashes and 51% of personal injury crashes occurred on municipal streets.

Responsibility for the 115,000 miles of roadways in New York State is shared by the state, counties, towns, and municipalities. Highway agencies have traditionally met their responsibilities through the application of roadway standards and the implementation of specific safety improvements at known or potential crash locations. Two types of sites where remedial and preventative treatment can be most beneficial are sites with fixed objects along the roadside and train crossing sites. The number of fatal and injury crashes with a fixed object decreased between 1997 and 1999, then increased in 2000. There were 49 collisions with a train in 2000.

Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002
Fatal and Injury Crashes with Fixed Objects 22,919 20,311 20,171 21,481 20,100 19,500
Collisions with Trains 24 26 41 49 39 24

Technology is playing a larger and larger role in decreasing crashes. A prime example is New York's involvement in the nation's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) initiative. Combining computer technologies, information, and telecommunications with the transportation infrastructure, ITS provides up-to-the-minute information related to traffic crashes and other incidents and traffic congestion. Real-time information enables motorists to avoid congested roadways and enables traffic management personnel to dispatch police and emergency medical services or adjust traffic signal controls, as needed.


The primary goal of the highway engineering program area is to improve traffic safety through the identification and treatment of high accident sites. This will be accomplished by collecting and reporting crash data to the DMV electronically, promoting the expansion of local highway inventory systems and local geographic information systems, and increasing the availability and accessibility of highway safety roadway and management data to all levels of government. An additional goal is to reduce the number of crashes involving collision with a train; this goal will be addressed by conducting educational programs that address highway/railroad grade crossing safety issues. Other strategies include continued involvement in the state's Safety Management System, strengthening the Department of Transportation's program to treat high accident and hazardous locations, improving access for bicyclists and pedestrians and promoting their safety in the traffic mix, and re-engineering highway/railroad grade crossings wherever practical.

SCHOOL VEHICLE SAFETYChildren waiting for a bus

In New York State, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the State Education Department (SED) share the responsibility for ensuring the safe transportation of pupils. These three agencies have formed the Tri-Agency School Bus Safety Committee to enhance communication and coordination and to provide a forum for discussing issues of mutual concern. The school bus transportation industry and other groups involved in pupil transportation participate in the Committee's activities.

DOT inspects all school vehicles twice each year and recently began a program to improve the maintenance of vehicles by the owners and operators. Both the SED and DMV have responsibilities related to school vehicle operators. DMV oversees the certification of school vehicle drivers and SED provides training to the instructors of school bus driver programs and educational programs for school children.

Under Governor Pataki's leadership, a new law will phase out the practice of allowing standees on school buses. The allowance for standees has been a target of the safety community for years, since children standing are denied the protection of the bus' compartmentalization design and use of restraint systems. In 2000, there were 1,869 crashes involving school vehicles; 902 of these involved injuries and six were fatal crashes. The majority of these school vehicle crashes occurred in New York City (29%) and on Long Island (27%).


The goals in the area of school vehicle safety are to reduce the total number of crashes and the number of fatal crashes involving school vehicles. This will be accomplished by increasing the number of tickets issued for passing a stopped school bus and monitoring owners and operators of school vehicles for compliance with regulatory requirements. The strategies include providing carrier education, promoting the active participation of carriers in safety initiatives, increasing the awareness of motorists of the issues relating to school vehicle safety, and providing training and education programs for both school vehicle operators and passengers.


The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) is responsible for coordinating and managing New York State's comprehensive highway safety program. GTSC takes a leadership role in identifying the state's overall traffic safety priorities; provides assistance to its local partners in identifying local highway safety priorities; and works with its partners to develop programs, public information campaigns, and other activities to address the needs identified. In addition to the 402 highway safety grant program, GTSC administers the highway safety funds awarded to the state through the various TEA-21 incentive grant programs. In administering the state's highway safety program, GTSC takes a comprehensive approach, providing funding for a wide variety of programs targeting crash reduction through education, enforcement, engineering, community involvement, and greater access to safety-related data.


The GTSC's goals in this area are to continue to improve the effectiveness of New York's highway safety program and the efficiency of its administration. This will be accomplished by enhancing the GTSC's leadership role in identifying priorities and establishing goals for the statewide program, improving the coordination of programs and resources, and promoting innovative approaches to address highway safety issues. GTSC will continue to assess the training needs of its partners and identify training opportunities that meet these needs. Communication and access to information and materials will be enhanced through the continuing development of GTSC's Internet site and other channels.

1   Prior to October 1997, by law DMV could not record property damage crashes on its file unless at least one motorist involved in the crash submitted a report, even if a police accident report was filed. The most direct impact of this change in criteria was a large increase in the number of property damage only crashes; the effect is reflected in the total number of crashes and the total number of occupants involved in crashes.