Beginning Nov. 7, the speed limit in New York City is being lowered to 25-miles-per-hour, unless otherwise posted. It’s part of Mayor Bill De Blasio’s “Vision Zero Action Plan” to slash pedestrian injuries and deaths in New York City.
An average of 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured and another 250 are killed in traffic crashes each year. In fact, being struck by a vehicle is the No. 1 cause of injury-related fatalities for children under 14, and the No. 2 cause for senior citizens. A vehicle injures or kills a New Yorker every two hours. A pedestrian or cyclist is killed every other day in a car accident in New York City.
This makes motor vehicle accidents more dangerous for residents here than gun violence or contagious diseases. Given these facts, lowering the speed limit is prudent. But it can’t be the only action we take.
Our New York City pedestrian accident lawyers note a new advocacy movement is pressing for greater action. The combined efforts of the Right of Way direct action group and Families for Safe Streets call for a more comprehensive approach. They want tougher traffic law enforcement, more criminal investigations of suspicious crashes and more consistent enforcement of “failure to yield” laws, particularly at intersections. Specifically, they cite the fact that New York City is one of the only places where cars can turn at the same time pedestrians have a signal. They want to make it so that there are three different signals, saying a person’s life is far more valuable than the two minutes the driver will save getting to his or her destination.
They give some recent examples of how additional change could benefit:
- In June 2013, a 4-year-old girl was killed while walking to daycare with her grandmother. The driver was a teen who was fleeing police because he didn’t want to be caught driving the sport utility vehicle that he didn’t have permission to take. Officers were pursuing him in a school zone, with four schools in the immediate proximity. The girl’s family sued the city, and is seeking more stringent standards on when police can pursue vehicles in school zones.
- In September 2012, a husband was hailing a taxi with his wife after a concert when they were struck by a van driven by a 20-year-old. The driver was later found to have ecstasy in his vehicle and marijuana in his backpack, but he was not tested for drugs at the scene. He ended up being charged with a misdemeanor. Victim’s wife is fighting to have legislators pass a measure that would make blood, breath and urine testing mandatory for drivers involved in collisions resulting in serious injury or death.
- In August 2012, a 19-year-old university student from Michigan was struck and killed by a livery car as the teen crossed a crosswalk. The teen was tossed into oncoming traffic and killed. Police did not conduct a criminal investigation of the matter. The family is pursuing a civil case.
- In October 2011, a 30-year-old artist was struck and killed while riding his bicycle; he was struck by a flatbed truck whose driver was turning. Police did not criminally charge the driver until many month later. At first, they blamed the cyclist for running a red light. Only later did they reveal that was not true, an the truck had turned into the cyclist’s path without signaling. The bicyclist was dragged for a full 40 feet, while the bike was dragged another 130 feet. The family said when they came to New York, it took more than a week for police to sit down with them and tell them what happened.
Clearly, unsafe speed isn’t the only factor in these crashes. If we hope to see a dramatic decrease in serious injury and death of cyclists and pedestrians in New York City, we’re going to need a dramatic, multi-layered approach.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
What 8 Pedestrian and Cycling Deaths Reveal About the Dangers of Crossing the Street in New York, Oct. 17, 2014, By Robert Kolker, New York Magazine, Daily Intelligencer
More Blog Entries:
Benn v. New York Presbyt. Hosp. – Pedestrian Injury Case to Proceed, Aug. 30, 2014, Manhattan Pedestrian Injury Lawyer Blog