Earlier this month, Transportation Alternatives (TA) released Executive Order: A Mayoral Strategy for Traffic Safety, which TA says shows startling gaps in the way NYC deters the most dangerous driving behaviors. TA’s stated mission is to reclaim New York City’s streets from the speeding automobile, and to advocate for bicycling, walking and public transit as the best transportation alternatives. More than 30 experts on enforcement, traffic, public health and litigation were interviewed for TA’s Executive Order. Based on analysis of the known rates of driver infraction and summonsing by the NYPD, Executive Order produced the following key findings: A driver could speed every day in NYC and get ticketed only once every 35 years.
While the number of traffic fatalities caused by speeding rose 11 percent between 2001 and 2006, the number of summons issued for speeding dropped 22 percent during that period. Police and enforcement cameras combined catch only 1 out of every 438 red light runners. A driver could fail to yield (the number two cause of crashes in NYC) every single day and get ticketed only once every 1,589 years. While the number of traffic fatalities caused by drivers failing to yield rose 26 percent between 2005 and 2007, the number of summons issued for failing to yield decreased 12 percent during that period.
The report made the following recommendations:
- Create an Office of Road Safety at City Hall in charge of reducing traffic violations, crashes, injuries and fatalities.
- Have the DMV distribute points to licenses from the time of conviction, not retroactively from adjudication, in order to keep dangerous drivers off the road.
- Reemploy the former NYPD policy of deploying officers to areas with frequent crashes.
- Measure traffic safety in the Mayor’s Management Report through incident reduction, not summons issued.
The report’s recommendations are reiterated in an open letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg which has been cosigned by 26 notable organizations and individuals including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Disabled in Action, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, SafeKids USA, Zipcar, Right of Way, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Citizens Committee for NYC, Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, Center for Independence of the Disabled NY, Harlem Independent Living Center, Disabilities Network NYC, Bronx Independent Living Services, Washington Heights Inwood Interagency Council on Aging, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 and James Huntley, President of the CWA Local 1182, representing all of New York City’s Traffic Enforcement Agents.
The open letter set forth many unsettling statistics: In 2007 there were 79,510 car crashes in New York City, including 11,035 incidents of a motor vehicle hitting a pedestrian. In 2007, 273 people were killed in car crashes and the majority of them were pedestrians. Being struck by a car while walking remains the number two cause of injury related death for New York City adults over 45, second only to an accidental fall, and it is the number one injury-related cause of death for New York City children under 14.
The open letter further noted that in the month of October 2008, there were 16 reported instances in which a vehicle crashed into a person. Between October 1 and October 24 alone, seven people were struck by cars and were fortunate enough to survive. In those same 24 days, motor vehicle drivers killed 11 pedestrians and 2 cyclists: five of the drivers hit and ran; one drove on a suspended license; none of the drivers were charged with a crime. The actual report aptly notes: Had the moving violations that caused these deaths, the speeding, red light running and failure to yield not resulted in a crash, it is extremely unlikely that any of the drivers illegal actions would have been caught.
However these fatalities are not the only disastrous effect of the failure to enforce moving violations. For every fatality, there are hundreds of crashes that cause debilitating injury, for every injury there are thousands of terrifying crashes, and for every crash there are millions of New Yorkers whose quality of life suffers under the toll of dangerous traffic in their community.
The lawyers at Levine & Slavit have decades of experience handling personal injury claims including those involving auto accidents. For over 50 years spanning 3 generations, we have obtained results for satisfied clients. We have offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and surrounding areas.