The Port Authority today announced that motor vehicle crashes at its facilities decreased by 12 percent in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the first quarter of 2011.

During the months of January through March 2012, the Port Authority reported 1,197 crashes, 158 fewer than the same period a year earlier. The biggest decrease occurred at the Holland Tunnel, with 139 crashes reported during the quarter, a 25 percent drop from the same period during 2011.

The first-quarter 2012 results continue the positive trend the Port Authority recorded in the numbers for all of 2011, when it reported 6,291 motor vehicle crashes, a decline of 252, or 5 percent, from 2010. The most significant decrease came at the Outerbridge Crossing, where accidents declined by 26 percent in 2011 to 74, down from 100 in 2010.

Since 2000, the number of motor vehicle crashes has decreased 34 percent at Port Authority bridges and tunnels, 39 percent at the airports, and 32 percent at the marine terminals. Overall, the agency has seen a 36 percent reduction at all its facilities combined.

The Port Authority attributes the improved numbers to aggressive implementation of new measures designed to make the crossings safer for all users. These measures include the broadcasting of highway advisory radio messages; the installation of fixed signage, pavement and crosswalk markings, and new traffic signals; and continued enforcement efforts carried out under a Traffic Safety Improvement Program first developed by the Port Authority’s Engineering Department more than ten years ago.

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our customers who use our crossings, airports, and marine facilities on a daily basis,” said Executive Director Pat Foye. “We applaud our engineers who tirelessly work to make sure we properly assess and identify highly hazardous locations so we can continue to reduce risks to our travelers.”

“The safety of our customers, commuters, staff and police is our most important responsibility,” said Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni. “We will continue to work around the clock to reduce crashes and save lives.”

Some of the newly implemented safety measures are credited with noticeable improvements at the Lincoln Tunnel in the years following 2009 after studies showed the North Tube had a high number of rear-end crashes. In the two-year period after the Port Authority implemented new safety-measures, the number of crashes at this location decreased by 25 percent, to 163 in 2011 from 217 in 2010.