One Out Of Five NYC Pedestrians Killed By Cars Were Drunk

By May Wilkerson 01/19/16

But the fault doesn't lie strictly with drunk walkers.

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New Yorkers love walking. And they love drinking. But putting the two together can be dangerous.

Nearly one in five pedestrians killed on New York City streets in the past 10 years were drunk at the time, a new study finds. There were 1,208 pedestrians fatally struck by cars on NYC streets between 2006 and 2014 according to the study, conducted by Alcoholic.org, and 213 of them, or 18%, had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Driving with a BAC of of over 0.08% is illegal in all 50 states.

“A person in an inebriated state is not taking the same precautions that they would while sober,” said data analyst Tristan Harris. “[They are] possibly stumbling into the roadway from the sidewalk.”

However, the drunkenness of victims may not be entirely to blame for these fatalities. A portion of these deaths may have been caused by drunk drivers, Harris added. Drunk people tend to walk around more during the same hours that more drivers are drinking. About 22% of motorists who died in NYC over the same time period were also drunk, the study found.

Alcoholic.org conducted the study to “start a conversation” about how people can keep themselves safe while drinking. Most people know drinking and driving is dangerous, but even just walking after a night of boozing can be risky. “People may think that after a night in the bar, it is safer to walk home than driving, but it’s still unsafe,” said Harris. “They might want to call a friend or a taxi.”

But New York City officials said they are working to make the streets safer for people who have been drinking, and Mayor de Blasio recently introduced Vision Zero, an initiative to curb driving deaths. “Vision Zero is about protecting everyone from fatal and serious crashes, which we believe are preventable,” said city Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Gastel.

“It’s a part of city life to be able to have a few drinks at the pub and walk home,” said Steely White, director of Transportation Alternatives. “It should not be a death sentence. Our streets should be forgiving enough that death is not an outcome.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.