A host of sweeping changes aim to shield pedestrians and mete harsh penalties to anyone who operates a vehicle carelessly.
As part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate all traffic deaths within the next decade, anyone who hits a cyclist or pedestrian with a right-of-way can be charged criminally. If a taxi cab driver strikes a pedestrian, he or she will no longer be allowed to drive commercially.
Additionally, certain kinds of exhibitionist behavior from motorcyclists, such as racing, will be met with swift punishments and stiff fines.
Our New York City pedestrian accident lawyers recognize that de Blasio’s philosophy was borrowed from Swedish doctrine that essentially holds all roadway fatalities as serious and inherently avoidable. The initiative is fast becoming the centerpiece of the mayor’s administration.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was quoted as saying that these policies will make the streets safer not just for pedestrians, but also for cyclists and motorists.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that the measures received the support they did from council, considering the particularly high number of fatalities we’ve seen on our streets this year. In January, there were four pedestrians killed in just two days – two in Manhattan and two hours later in Queens.
Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson penned an article in May, recalling her 2007 experience as a pedestrian accident victim – one of nearly 11,000 New York walkers struck that year. Some of them survived. Several hundred were not so fortunate.
Of the 6,780 pedestrians who were seriously injured between 2002 and 2006, about 5,000 occurred at intersections. Of those, about 3,000 – more than half- were crossing legally, according to data collected by the city.
The bill passed most recently by city council was dubbed “Cooper’s Law.” It was named after 9-year-old Cooper Stock, who was struck in a crosswalk by a taxi driver operating on a one-year probationary license (sometimes referred to as a “hack license). While the driver is not expected to face criminal charges, his commercial license is not expected to be renewed when it expires in July.
Cooper’s Law allows the city to revoke or suspend the license of any livery or taxi driver who maims or kills a pedestrian with the right-of-way. Although taxi drivers say the city is targeting them unfairly, the city counters their industry must be held to the highest standards.
Provisions of the measure additionally hold that dangerous motorcycle behavior, such as revving, burnouts and wheelies, could carry up to two months in jail.
The package also carries a host of resolutions asking state lawmakers to take action on measures the city can’t enact on its own. For example, there is a request to lower the default speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph. Another request asks for control of speed enforcement cameras to be given to city officials.
The administration has already been active with speed enforcement, with the police department issuing some 5,200 citations in the course of just two days earlier this month.
But de Blasio insists these measures work. The police department reports pedestrian deaths dropped by a third this year, as compared to the same time frame last year.
There are those who say that may have more to do with the cold weather than de Blasio’s tactics, but time – and continued efforts – will tell.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
New York City Toughens Traffic Laws to Reduce Pedestrian Deaths, May 29, 2014, By Mara Gay, The Wall Street Journal
More Blog Entries:
Fatal Pedestrian Accident in Manhattan Illustrates Risks, April 26, 2014, New York City Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Blog