Taxi Photo: Jason Lawrence/Flickr

New York City has the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities due to drivers making left-hand turns in the country. Now, NYC is asking Google to help them change that figure.

Alexandra Sims of The Independent, a newspaper based in the UK, reports that city officials made a request to Google’s web mapping service early in July.

Council members Brad Lander, deputy leader of policy for the council, and Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the council’s transportation committee, sent the note. They asked Google to use their algorithm to deter motorists from making left-hand turns to help decrease the number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in the future.

According to a report by WNYC,17 pedestrians and three cyclists were killed by left-hand turns in New York last year.

Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, explained to WNYC why left-hand turns cause so many accidents.

“You have to try to gauge the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles,” she said. “And a problem at intersections is that people often speed through the light.”

In a thread on social news site Reddit, users argued that Google shouldn’t be responsible for solving the problem. One user commented: “Not that asking is uncalled for, but it’s not really Google’s job to make sure people are good drivers/city infrastructure is accommodating.”

Sims noted that this wouldn’t be the first time Google Maps has worked with government agencies to increase public safety.

“Last month, Google Maps and the Federal Railroad Administration worked together to develop a feature which would notify users when they approached railroad crossings,” she wrote.

Follow @bbhnyc for updates on the developing story.

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