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The Most Common Factors in Fatal Car Accidents in NYC

Our compassionate wrongful death lawyers explain why fatal crashes happen

NYC records about 100,500 crashes in an average year. Almost 40 percent of these auto wrecks result in serious injuries or death. That’s at least 40,200 people in New York City experience life-altering car accidents every year. The causes of these most serious accidents vary. However, unless there is a car malfunction or an outstanding circumstance, it's usually the poor decisions of negligent drivers causing fatal accidents.

The best defense a good driver has against a bad one is awareness. The car accident attorneys at Giampa Law have years of experience and successful track records handling fatal car accident cases throughout New York with compassion and dedication. Here is what New Yorkers should know about the leading causes of fatal crashes in the Five Boroughs.

Most fatal accidents are the preventable result of careless driving

New York’s biggest problem contributing to fatal crashes is inattentive or distracted driving. Cell phones are still blamed as the biggest source of distraction. Despite the city banning the use of handheld electronics while driving, the issue persists. While every borough is different, the overall, citywide top factors are bad decisions made by negligent drivers. Here they are, in order from most common to less common:

  • Driver inattention, distracted driving, texting while driving.
  • Failure to yield the right of way, improper turns.
  • Following too closely, tailgating, riding the bumper.
  • Improper passing or lane usage, unsafe lane changing.
  • Passing too close to cyclists, pedestrians, or vehicles.
  • Speeding.
  • Disregard for traffic control lights, signage, officers, or flaggers.
  • Unsafe backing up, going in reverse blind.

What are the top causes of fatal accidents in the Five Boroughs?

In New York, the causes of fatal car crashes vary from borough to borough. According to crash data from all five boroughs, here are the top factors in deadly accidents (from most to least common):

  • Manhattan: Driver inattention, failure to yield, following too closely (tailgating), and backing unsafely.
  • The Bronx: Driver inattention, improper passing, passing too closely, and failure to yield right of way.
  • Brooklyn: Driver inattention, failure to yield right of way, passing too closely, improper passing, disregard for traffic control measures.
  • Queens: Driver inattention, failure to yield right of way, passing too closely, improper passing, following too closely.
  • Staten Island: Driver inattention, failure to yield right of way, passing too closely, improper passing, following too closely, disregard for traffic control measures.

Where do fatal accidents happen in NYC?

A car accident can happen anywhere at any time, but some places are more likely to see a crash than others. Over the last several years, intersections with the highest total number of fatal and serious injury-causing car accidents are:


  • Macombs Pl & W 155th St
  • Amsterdam Ave & 181st St
  • Amsterdam Ave & 125th St
  • 7th Ave & W 42nd St

The Bronx

  • Bruckner Blvd & Leggett Ave
  • Pelham Pkwy & White Plains Rd
  • Cross Bronx Expwy & Jerome Ave
  • Bruckner Blvd & Hunts Point Ave


  • Rockaway Pkwy & Shore Pkwy
  • Church Ave & Utica Ave
  • Cropsey Ave & Shore Pkwy


  • Grand Central Pkwy & Homelawn St
  • 31st St & Astoria Blvd
  • Farmers Blvd & Conduit Ave

Staten Island

  • Lortel Ave & S Losson Ave
  • Hylan Blvd & N Narrows Rd
  • Bard Ave & Forest Ave

Pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders face a heightened risk

Due to the city's busy streets and complex traffic patterns, millions of New Yorkers are vulnerable when they use the streets and sidewalks. Motorcycle riders, pedestrians, and cyclists face a heightened risk of fatal crashes compared to other road users. According to city crash data, more than half of the fatal motor vehicle accident victims in New York City are pedestrians.

The sheer volume of vehicles, coupled with factors such as distracted driving, can lead to a higher incidence of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. A pedestrian in New York City could be killed in an accident when struck by a speeding vehicle while crossing a busy intersection or navigating through congested traffic. Additionally, collisions involving large vehicles, such as trucks or buses, may pose a significant risk to pedestrians due to their increased mass and limited maneuverability in crowded urban settings.

Motorcyclists are more exposed and less protected, as well. The city’s traffic congestion, intricate right of way signage, and narrow streets amplify the risk for motorcyclists, who may encounter challenges maneuvering through tight spaces and face a higher likelihood of collisions with other vehicles.

Legal options for victims of fatal car accidents

While no amount of money can change what happened, it is important for families of fatal accident victims to seek compensation. Otherwise, they risk adding great financial pain to the already devastatingly high price of someone else’s reckless actions. In New York, families can file wrongful death lawsuits or claims for financial losses such as lost future income, household services, companionship, and care, as well as medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and other costs related to the death.

Families have only one opportunity to claim the compensation they rightfully deserve. In most cases, New York gives people a two-year window to file a wrongful death lawsuit after the loss of a loved one. This may seem like a lot of time, but building a strong case for fatal accident compensation often takes more time than anticipated. It’s a good idea for families to consult an attorney as soon as possible after a crash. We can help.

In NYC, the fatal car accident lawyers at Giampa Law have experience successfully handling wrongful death cases in the city and beyond. We are known for compassionate, dedicated service. We can put you in the best position to fight for justice and compensation after a fatal car accident. If a loved one was killed in a NYC motor vehicle accident, contact us to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers. We can answer your questions, explain your options, and help you decide the next steps. There is no obligation to hire, just information you can trust.

Click here to download a printable PDF version of this article, "The Most Common Factors in Fatal Car Accidents in NYC."

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