This past Wednesday, safety advocates, concerned citizens and city officials all gathered in Manhattan for a joint meeting of the City Council's Transportation and Public Safety Committees. The reason? The assembled group wanted to discuss such important matters as reckless driving/speeding and the adequacy of current vehicle traffic laws governing accident investigations.
Regarding the first issue, council members cited some particularly eye-opening and rather grim statistics. Specifically, they indicated that speeding was the primary cause of car accidents throughout the five boroughs in 2011, a year that saw 241 traffic-related fatalities.
"Wherever I go in my district and wherever I go in this city, one of the most common complaints is the speed with which people drive," said Councilman James Vacca (D-Bronx), chairperson of the Transportation Committee. "There are some people who think this is the Wild West and that they own the streets and everybody else should get out of the way."
In attendance at the meeting was Deputy Chief John Cassidy of the New York Police Department (NYPD) who indicated that while the department was certainly aware of the speeding problem and working to make roads safer, his operating budget for the highway unit has undergone a 44 percent reduction over the past ten years. This translates into 165 fewer officers than in 2000.
"It is not that we aren't doing anything out there. I think it is quite the contrary," he said. "We are doing a lot with a lot less."
Regarding the issue of the adequacy of current vehicle traffic laws governing accident investigations, one of the primary concerns among safety advocates, citizens and the assembled politicians was the NYPD policy of only opening an accident investigation when a person has died or is likely to die because of a car accident.
"If you had a relative or friend who found themselves in a situation where they were run over by a truck and were in a position of losing both of their legs, should there not be a more active and aggressive investigation by New York City authorities?" asked Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan).
It remains to be seen what steps the City Council, NYPD and state legislature will consider to make our roads safer ...
If you have been issued a traffic citation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.
This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
Stay tuned for further developments from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...
NY1, "City Council members want NYPD to crack down on reckless driving" Feb. 15, 2012
The New York Daily News, "Slam brakes on speeders, cry loved ones of people mowed down on New York City streets" Feb. 15, 2012