According to new data released from the Department of Health [pdf], the city's traffic fatality rate is at an all-time low, decreasing 20% from 2005 to 2009. Last year, there were just 256 traffic-related fatalities. But that's still 256 people that didn't have to die, and according to the DOH, "45% of those killed at intersections by motor vehicles were obeying traffic signals when they were struck."

Pedestrians accounted for 52% of the victims between 2005 and 2009, and though Manhattan had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities per square mile, Brooklyn had the highest overall with 32%. About one in four traffic fatalities involved a driver going at an unsafe speed, though the DOH says speeding is "frequently underreported as a contributing factor." People think speeding over 70 or 80 mph is a problem," Laura DiGrande, co-director of injury surveillance and prevention at the department, told the Post. "But even going above that 30 mph is an issue."

Motorcyclists make up a disproportionate amount of victims; 11% of all traffic-related fatalities were among motorcyclists, though they make up just 2% of NYC motor vehicle registrations. Bicyclists were the smallest group, just 7%, of the total 1,467 traffic fatalities in those four years. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said, "Although New York enjoys a good safety record, there is always room for improvement. The Police Department’s enforcement focuses on those illegal practices that kill: drunken driving, speeding and inattentiveness linked to hand-held phone calls and texting." "Driver inattention," including texting while driving, was a factor in 17% of traffic fatalities. Which is why we always greet any oncoming car with a slap to the hood and a hearty, "I'm walkin' heah!"