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Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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Crash Investigation Reform Act aims to decrease traffic accident injuries, deaths

A newly proposed bill is seeking to create a task force to reform accident investigations in New York City in the hopes of reducing the overall number of traffic-related injuries and deaths. In addition to car-on-car accidents, the bill is also designed to reduce the injury and fatality rates of pedestrians and bicyclists struck by vehicles.

With support of the New York City Council and the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, the bill calls for a comprehensive review of the traffic safety enforcement and investigation protocols currently enforced by the New York City Police Department. The bill, known the Crash Investigation Reform Act, was written under the premise that current traffic enforcement and investigation standards are simply not meeting the needs of public safety.

"Crashes that result in serious injuries demand serious investigations," said Council member Brad Lander. "But right now, they just aren't getting them from the NYPD ... The Crash Investigation Reform Act would set up a comprehensive review of NYPD policies regarding traffic crash investigations, and get us on the road to safer streets."

In addition to the initial assessment of current practices, the bill calls for the subsequent introduction of new methods to effectively reduce injury and fatality rates.

Tougher law enforcement is almost sure to be one of the new measures. Currently, many accidents are not even addressed by police unless a fatality has occurred or is likely to occur. But even then, enforcement is spotty -- 21 cyclists died at the hands of motor vehicles in New York City in 2011, but only two drivers were arrested.

According to New York City Council, illegal driving behavior -- speeding, distracted driving, etc. -- was responsible for 60 percent of accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians in which the cause of the accident was known. However, advocates argue that police officers just aren't doing enough to deter or punish this kind of behavior, meaning they aren't writing enough traffic tickets or making the necessary arrests.

Other legislation may ultimately be packaged with the Crash Investigation Reform Act to bolster its efficacy in changing traffic investigation and law enforcement procedures.

Stay tuned for further developments from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...

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.

Sources:

Windsor Terrace-Kensington Patch, "New York City Council introduces Crash Investigation Reform Act," Will Yakowicz, July 25, 2012

The New York Daily News, "Council takes on NYPD crash probes," Erin Durkin, July 25, 2012

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