You're stuck at a red light, several cars back when you realize you forgot to remind your significant other about your dinner reservations. No problem, just whip out your cell and shoot him or her a quick text. It's no big deal, lots of people do it.
The New York City Department of Transportation is hoping that a new campaign will decrease pedestrian accidents by increasing pedestrian alertness. The efforts are an alternative to implementing a new vehicle traffic law, and the hope is that a culture change among both pedestrians and drivers is all that is needed to improve safety. Distractions abound in today's mobile society. Consequently, pedestrians face a heightened risk of being involved in an accident due to their inattentive behavior. Whether it's talking or texting on a smart phone, listening to music or becoming otherwise distracted, too many pedestrians are stepping off of curbs into busy traffic without first looking both ways. Now, officials are hopeful that a simple awareness campaign strategy will produce the desired results. The central feature of the campaign is a logo entitled "LOOK," which will be emblazoned onto the crosswalk corners of the city's 110 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians.
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.
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has increased the number of texting-while-driving tickets it has been issuing recently. Within the first eight months of this year, NYPD has already issued 1,857 tickets, up from the 1,631 tickets it gave out in all of 2010. This 14 percent increase is partially due to a change in the texting-while-driving ban.
Here in New York, we have some fairly strict vehicle traffic laws governing the use of cell phones while driving and the practice of texting while driving. Specifically, both are considered primary offenses, meaning they are illegal and any law enforcement official in the state can currently stop and ticket a motorist for either offense.
In 2001, New York legislators passed a bill which banned texting while driving as "distracted driving" became a national focus in terms of roadway safety. The initial law made distracted driving a secondary offense, meaning that it could not be the basis of a traffic stop, but once pulled over, a driver could also be fined $100 for their cell phone use.
From speeding and distracted driving to driving under the influence, it always seems as if the number of fatalities on U.S. highways continues to rise despite efforts by local, state, and federal officials to make roads safer.