New Report: Lawbreaking Drivers At Fault For Most Fatal Pedestrian & Bike Crashes
Task Force Necessary To Reform NYPD Crash Investigations
Today, Transportation Alternatives released "Deadly Driving Unlimited: How the NYPD Lets Dangerous Drivers Run Wild." The report found that three out of five fatal pedestrian and bicyclist crashes with known causes are the result of illegal driving behavior.
"This report makes it crystal clear: lawbreaking drivers are responsible for the majority of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths in New York City." said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "It's just as clear that the New York City Police Department is failing to hold these drivers accountable. There needs to be an overhaul of the NYPD's traffic enforcement practices to make sure the police protect New Yorkers from the lethal danger of lawbreaking drivers."
According to the report's analysis of New York State Department of Transportation data, 60 percent of fatal pedestrian and bicyclist crashes with known causes were caused by illegal driver behavior between 1995 and 2009. Between 2001 and 2010, drivers killed 1,745 pedestrians and bicyclists in New York City traffic.
The report makes clear that the NYPD lacks sufficient resources to hold dangerous drivers accountable. The NYPD's Accident Investigation Squad (AIS) has 19 trained investigators that handled 304 cases in 2011. They take photographs of the crash scene, record witness statements, and perform other thorough investigative work. These officers are only called to the scene of a crash when a victim is dead or likely to die. Only these 19 officers are allowed to collect crash scene evidence which can determine whether a motorist violated the law. All crashes which do not involve an actual or likely fatality receive cursory treatment in a one-page report (the MV-104). In those cases, even when the injuries are very severe, evidence of possible criminal conduct other than drunk driving is not collected. State law requires the police to provide thorough investigations of the type AIS performs whenever a person is seriously injured in traffic, and not only those who are dead or dying.
The report also shows that the NYPD isn't allocating the resources it does have effectively. In 2011, precincts issued four times as many tickets for tinted windows as for speeding. Tinted windows may be a safety issue, but it pales in comparison to threat of speeding drivers. Speeding is the most common cause of fatal crashes involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists--killing more New Yorkers than drunk driving and distracted driving combined. A March 2012 study by the McGuinness Boulevard Working Group highlights the frequency with which vehicles speed. The study found that 66 percent of drivers on McGuinness Boulevard--a four-lane corridor running through residential neighborhoods in Brooklyn--drive at illegal speeds.
The report calls on the City of New York to convene a task force a Task Force to assess the current state of affairs of the City's traffic safety enforcement and crash investigation practices. Last month, a group of New York City Council Members introduced the Crash Investigation Reform Act, which would create such a Task Force, along with a larger package of legislation aimed at correcting other failures of the NYPD's crash investigation program.
"The Crash Investigation Reform Act will make sure the NYPD is doing everything it can to hold lawbreaking drivers accountable for their lethal behavior," added White. "New Yorkers deserve nothing less."
The report also recommends that the NYPD embrace data-driven enforcement policies and the State Legislature assist the police supplement their limited resources by approving the installation of speed detection cameras in New York City.
The report is available online: http://transalt.org/files/newsroom/reports/2012/Deadly_Driving_Unlimited...
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