Reckless Driver Accountability Act Passes Council 41-5

Mayor de Blasio speaks with protesters, including organizer Doug Gordon, Families for Safe Streets activist Amy Cohen, and Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White, outside the Prospect Park YMCA on Tuesday morning following the Monday, March 5, 2018 crash. Jacklyn Jeffrey-Wilensky/Bklyner

Advocacy following the horrific crash that took the lives of two young children in Park Slope on a Monday in March, 2018, has resulted in legislation to tame reckless drivers, passed by the City Council today, thanks to the tireless work by Park Slope councilmember Brad Lander, Families for Safe Streets, and Transportation Alternatives.

“When Abigail Blumenstein and Joshua Lew were killed by a driver with a history of speeding and running red lights right outside my office two years ago, we pledged to do something to intervene with the most reckless drivers before they kill or injure any more of our neighbors,” said Council Member Brad Lander.“Today we are taking a big step forward, launching the first program of its kind in the country to require owners of the most dangerous vehicles to consider the impact of their driving on their neighbors.”

The Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Law will start by sending the owners of vehicles that receive more than 5 red light camera violations or more than 15 speed camera violations within 12 months to a traffic safety course, offered by the DOT. If the owner fails to complete the class, the car may be impounded by the Sherriff.  Red light and speeding tickets are issued by cameras, so owners of vehicles will have an opportunity to contest, and if someone else racked up the tickets, they can take the safety course instead.

“There’s a strong correlation between repeated speeding and red-light running offenses and a driver’s propensity to end up in an injury-causing crash, and getting them off the road and into a remedial driving course will quite literally save lives,” said Eric McClure, Executive Director of StreetsPAC.

The pilot program will run for three years, and DOT is expected to report annually on the number of drivers of who completed the course as well as the number of vehicles impounded.  DOT is also to issue a report on the effectiveness of the program and how certain driving behaviors correlate with traffic crashes before the three years are out.

“We thank Councilmember Lander and the entire Council for this bold step being taken today to help New York City deliver on our Vision Zero goals to make our streets safer,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

“Driving is a privilege, not a right. This landmark bill, the first in the nation, will make New York City safer for everyone by addressing the threat posed by our worst drivers,” said Danny Harris, Executive Director, Transportation Alternatives.

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Liena Zagare

Editor of Bklyner.com. Tips? Complaints? Suggestions? Email me at Liena@bklyner.com.

Comments

  1. “If the owner fails to complete the class, the car may be impounded by the Sherriff. ”

    This legislation seems relatively toothless. It depends on the NYPD to locate and tow vehicles in violation. This means assigning members of the force to track down vehicles (which may not be parked at the owner’s address) and tow them. Will they even bother to prioritize enforcement?

    Even if they do, the owner can retrieve the car for $185. Compare that to $250 for five red light camera tickets. All told, a drop in the bucket compared to the expense of car ownership.

    We will continue to (impatiently) wait for real action that enforces real consequences.

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