Bruce Brodoff Communications
Bruce Brodoff Communications
City's on Road to Sobriety
Pete Donahue (New York Daily News)

The number of people killed in drunken-driving accidents dropped sharply in the city last year, while traffic-related deaths overall showed a modest decline, police statistics reveal.

Through Sunday, there were 24 fatalities stemming from crashes involving bombed drivers - a 31% reduction from the 35 deaths in 2001.

While there was a 5% increase in drunken-driving accidents, arrests of intoxicated drivers were up more than 10%, NYPD stats show. "It's a priority of the department," NYPD Chief of Transportation Michael Scagnelli said. "If they see someone driving erratically...if they determine the person is drunk, they make an arrest."

Overall, the number of people killed in traffic accidents - including pedestrians and bicyclists - slipped 3% to 374 last year from 386 in 2001. The number of traffic accidents fell 6%, while the number of people injured in such incidents dropped 10%. Scagnelli called the improvements "phenomenal," and credited police and transportation officials for pinpointing trouble spots and changing roadway configurations.

"It sounds like things are going in the right direction," said Jon Orcutt, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a transportation-policy advocacy group.

"I think the police and transportation departments are consciously working to try to get the numbers down each year," he added. "They are aware it's a measure of their performance to have fewer and fewer people killed each year."

On Monday, Gov. Pataki signed legislation that lowers the legally drunk blood-alcohol level to .08 from .10. The law, which goes into effect March 1, should help further reduce alcohol-related deaths on the roads, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration predicted.

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