New York City to Google: Reduce the number of left turns in Maps navigation directions

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Members of the New York City Council have written a letter to Google requesting the company reduce the number of left turns suggested to drivers using the navigation feature in Google Maps. The appeal aims to reduce the number of left-turn-related deaths in the city.

Nationwide, left turns lead to a quarter of all pedestrian crashes. In New York City, 17 pedestrians and three bicyclists were killed by left-turning vehicles last year, according to a report from WNYC. “The fatality rate for pedestrians struck by drivers making lefts in the city is the highest in the nation,” notes CityLab.

In an effort to reduce the number of these types of deaths going forward, city council members Brad Lander and Ydanis Rodriguez wrote a letter to Google on July 1 asking the company to reduce the number of left turns suggested to drivers using Google Maps for directions.

More specifically, Lander and Rodriguez requested that Google give Maps users a “Reduce left turns” routing option. Currently, Google Maps gives users “Avoid highways,” “Avoid tolls,” and “Avoid ferries” route options.

“The first cause of death for New York City children under 13 is not gangs, it’s not poverty, not violence. It’s being hit by cars and trucks,” says Rodriguez. “This is the time for the city to reach out to the private sector, so they can help us to provide information to drivers about where you should avoid making left turns.”

Rodriguez says they haven’t received a response from Google yet. “But we hope, knowing that Google is one of those good private entities, that Google can look at this.”

The second request in Lander and Rodriquez’s letter to Google is to create a “Stay on truck routes” option for truck drivers. The letter cites a 2007 study that found 35 percent of crashes involving trucks in New York City happened off of truck routes, according to CityLab.

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